Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dead musician update

Some fine, talented people died while I was home for the holidays. RIP Rowland S. Howard and Vic Chesnutt.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cassette corner #2

A teaser trailer for what's to come:
Today, the cassette in the car is Dead Milkmen's Big Lizard in My Backyard. Before I get into the origin of this cassette, I want to repeat a bit of information about the good people who put this in my hands and the conditions from whence I issued forth. My hometown has a population of 1,500. At any given time, the number of people living in that pee-pee soaked heck-hole who love music can be estimated at 9. My former townsmen and townswomen were mostly into hunting, sports, and cable TV. Nothing wrong with those things. It's just hard to live there if those things don't give you twenty boners a second. When I was in grade school, junior high, and high school, I found the few kindred spirits the portal to hell I call my hometown belched forth. Three of them were siblings. For privacy's sake, I will call them the Burtreynolds. Clint Burtreynolds was my classmate, partner in crime, and future weed supplier. His older brother Jason Burtreynolds and older sister Jenny Burtreynolds became friends, too. Vince Jazzyjeff was not a Burtreynolds, but he had the chutzpah of a young extra on Cannonball Run II. He also liked music a lot, so much so that he quit the football team to listen to Ween and Sonic Youth albums at my house, an unpopular decision at the time. In all fairness, he also quit the team to spend more time with girls. These girls were not spending much time at my house listening to Ween and Sonic Youth. I believe the hours these girls spent listening to Ween and Sonic Youth at my house totaled zero. Zero hours. Yeah, that sounds right. Anyway, the Burtreynolds family was a godsend. Wonderful, interesting people who shared my sensibilities. And a whole house full of them. In the godforsaken shithole I'd accidentally been conceived, born, and raised in. (A digression: It may sound like I'm bitter about my hometown. However, I've slowly learned to be grateful for the experience of growing up in such a hostile environment. When you're raised in a town in which you have absolutely nothing in common with anyone else, you find yourself in multiple ridiculous situations that only career alcoholics, morning news show hosts, and Miami drug lords find themselves in, which builds character.) What are the odds? Anyway, Jason graduated first, moved away, and came back on holidays with all kinds of musical treats. Even before he'd escaped to the outside world, he had connections with every weirdo in the western Nebraska panhandle and had a mighty cassette collection of punk rock, classic rock, early hip-hop, metal, and what was then being called college rock, which would later splinter into what Diane Sawyer calls indie rock and alternative rock. Anyway, my first dub from Jason's cassette collection was Dead Milkmen's first album. I was in sixth grade, and it was just what I needed. I borrowed the cassette and rode it on my bike over to my grandfather's house to dub it. (More on my grandfather's sweet-at-the-time cassette and vinyl setup in a future installment.) Clint accompanied me on this excursion. On the way, my cassette case flipped open and I dumped most of my cassette collection all over the street behind the grocery store where I would later work in high school. A pickup was coming up fast behind us, and Clint jumped into the middle of the street and started doing jumping jacks to prevent my cassettes from being smushed all over the road. The old guy driving the pickup looked at us like we were out of our fucking minds, swerved around us, and continued on his way. I listened to Big Lizard in My Backyard about 800 times that year. They hated right-wingers, but also made jokes about retarded people and AIDS. That was still possible in the 1980s. And those songs are pretty good. They're not just a novelty band. One of my college roommates, who is also a friend and is married to my wife's sister, has a great story about stealing their license plates in a misguided fanboy gesture that resulted in the band being busted for drugs.
The Burtreynolds also had a bunch of other kids who were younger than us. My copy of Big Lizard in My Backyard opens with Clint's younger brother Alex babbling in baby talk for a few seconds, then saying my name, "Dosh, Dosh, Dosh." Then I say in my pre-pubescent, almost pubescent voice, "Oh man, I think I hit record." Then Clint's other younger brother Doug says, apropos of nothing, "Hey dude, you're looking at one big bad football player," then "Bitchin' Camaro" starts. Rewinding cassettes is a pain in the ass, but you're not going to accidentally capture moments of your own life on mp3. I heard my long-dead grandfather breathing and coughing at the end of one of my other cassettes, which I'll write about later. Make that happen again, technological progress. Two steps forward, six steps back.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon's Crazy Second-Cousin

I was in line at the no-longer-the-store's-best-kept-secret express checkout lane near the produce entrance at my neighborhood monolith grocery store buying some macaroni salad and beer a few weeks ago. The line was long, and I stood there for several minutes. A woman was about three people in line ahead of me. This woman was clearly, but gently, insane. She wore ill-fitting clothes and a stocking cap that would have looked more at home on Tad Doyle or the Screaming Trees' Conner brothers circa 1991, and she was missing several teeth. She occasionally turned toward the people in line behind her, including me, and said something to nobody in particular that made no sense. "I cut in line," she said once. She hadn't cut in line. "Today is Thursday," she said. It was Wednesday. "We're going to the moon," she said. We weren't. About four minutes later and the line hadn't moved much. We were still in the same spot. Suddenly, a large man wearing several coats, though it was relatively warm outside, slowly pushed his cart by us. In addition to the multiple coats, he had a large pair of earphones on, which were affixed to his chalky, bushy hair by a shitload of packing tape. He was hunched so far over his shopping cart that he was nearly resting his head on the bottom of it. The crazy woman in line looked at him gently, and said, "Oh hey, Louis." He looked at her, said, "Hey, how's it going?" and proceeded on his way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cassette Corner #1

Welcome to Can-Smashing Robot's new feature, Cassette Corner. This continuing series will mostly focus on my current attempt to listen to every cassette in my big crate full of cassettes as I drive to and from the school where I'm student teaching. These cassettes were mostly purchased, received as gifts, or dubbed off of friends' and relatives' vinyl, cassettes, and CDs in the years 1984-1998. I can only listen to them in the car because all seven tape decks in my apartment are no longer in working order. I have downloaded some songs from these tapes onto my computer and iPod, but some of these cassettes have not been listened to in years. This cassette misadventure is digging up all kinds of nostalgic, wistful, melancholy, and silly reminiscences, so I thought I should share some of it to kick-start this mostly inactive blog. Join me on my Proustian journey through the past, cassette-style. Having said all that, this first installment has nothing to do with any of that. It has to do with the extreme metal brutality of this past Austin summer. Now that a chill is in the air, I can remember a bit of Summer 2009 with fondness. I had to drive my un-air-conditioned nightmare to and from work in the blistering heat of the second-hottest summer, and the hottest August, in recorded Austin history. It sucked. It sucked so much ass. Anyway, every summer I leave an old mix tape on the dashboard from May to September because I'm easily amused. I finally remembered to document the results tonight. Here they are:

Kicking our research up a notch, we now compare the sun-baked cassette to a normal cassette: CBS Records' 1980 release of Aerosmith's Greatest Hits

Look at that last photo. Aerosmith's Greatest Hits stands erect, alert, with the stiff posture of a veteran Marine, while our sun-baked Maxell glides jauntily down the promenade, a good-natured idler, a gentleman of leisure, slightly tipsy from a spirit or two, whistling casually as he keeps his calendar free for yet another month. Who would you rather be?

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I guess I understand why the health bigwigs in America want us to blow snot on the crooks of our arms instead of in our hands, but it really is much easier to wash your hands than the crooks of your arms if you're in the middle of your normal day and not near your shower, and it's also disgusting to have snot on your clothes all day if you're wearing long sleeves, so I think the health bigwigs of America can go fuck themselves on their stupid goddamn motherfucking idiotic shitty advice.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The blog where nobody lives

Hey fine people of Earth,
I've been posting a lot of stuff and re-designing over at my least popular blog. The one about movies. Not the one about horror movies. That's become my most popular blog. Not this one, either. I'm talking about the general movie blog. You know, the one nobody gives a fuck about. Go there for new content and bigger images for your eyeballs, including a post about my mother and brother's surprise appearance in a Criterion Collection movie. See if you can be the seventh person to visit the site this week. You may win a glazed pigeon, in a contest that may not exist.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I want to punch everything in the face and groin twice

Oh my sweet lord. Trying to register for these teacher certification tests online has made me angrier than I think I've ever been in my entire life. My blood feels like it's burning under my skin and I have a tremendous urge to break my own hand by punching concrete repeatedly until I lose all sense of identity and my hand is a worthless, misshapen bloody piece of mush. Nothing on any of the three sites (and three user logins I had to create for them) is remotely user-friendly, or in fact, coherent. None of the information and test dates I was given by my program correspond to anything on the sites, the dates don't match at all, the site is showing dates for the test that aren't even real or valid or true, and one of the tests I have to take is mysteriously absent. When I finally get to something that matches the information I was given, the link I need to click to sign up takes me back to the crazy nonsense page. I was so angry I couldn't even figure out how to write a coherent email explaining my beefs and confusions, so my wife rose to the occasion and helped me out even though I was screaming profanities for about 20 minutes straight and could not possibly have been less pleasant to be around. In conclusion, fuck this shit to hell and back, motherfuckers. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDAAAAAAMMMMMMMMITTTTTTTTTTT! SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTT!

Say what?

Man, both of my certification tests are on Halloween. That is bull to the shit. Halloween is my holy day. It's the official Dr. Mystery Day of Obligation. I mean, I usually just take a walk around the neighborhood and then drink beer while watching a horror movie, but still.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jim Dickinson, 1941-2009

Jim Dickinson died last week at age 67 after bypass surgery. He was a Memphis native. He played on Aretha Franklin's Spirit in the Dark, The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," The Flamin' Groovies' Teenage Head, and Bob Dylan's Time out of Mind. He produced Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers, Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert, The Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me, and Mudhoney's Tomorrow Hit Today. He also played with and/or produced Sam & Dave, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Los Lobos, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ry Cooder, Petula Clark, Arlo Guthrie, Primal Scream, Rocket from the Crypt, and the Texas Tornados. He made some solo albums, too, including 1972's Dixie Fried.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Theme Schmeme

I'm still trying to get over being horrified at having to teach theme to my future students, because Texas standardized tests emphasize the ever living fuck out of theme. I don't understand this at all. Theme is the least important thing about the written word imaginable. It's even less important than symbolism, which, thank whatever non-existent god you stupidly and/or wisely pray to, is finally being de-emphasized in high school curriculum. Still, I'd rather teach symbolism than theme, because at least the occasional writer does something with symbolism. Emphasizing theme does a disservice to any student of reading and writing. Whether you're reading a piece of supermarket fiction for fun or reading a bill from a utility provider or translating an ancient text or trying to read a sign on the highway at night on your way to a friend's house in a city you've never visited, specificity and close reading and the words on the page and/or sign are most of what you need. You may also need life experience and an understanding of references to other works, but a cliched, generic mission statement about that text's human or television or Oprah universalities are a complete waste of time and energy and precious, ever-dwindling lifetime hours. Still, you need this "skill" to graduate, so I'm forced to shove it in adolescents' faces until the second after the test, in which case they can forget it forever because they will never need it, and if they want it they are terrible human beings. Worse than Hitler. Theme. Can I please judge salsa-eating contests for a living? I just wasn't made for these times.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I am petty enough to take pleasure in the petty hatred of some creepy moron in Chicago who hates the Jesus Lizard and writes dumb things

I can't believe this person is paid by the Chicago Reader to write articles. I can't believe someone hasn't murdered her. I can believe that indie-rock fans have turned out to be stupider and less relevant than classic rock fans. To clarify, first two sentences = can't, third sentence = can.
Here is a link to her blog.
Here are some nuggets of asininity, directly from her keyboard to your toilet bowl:
"It's such a gratifying thing to be able to report and write a story that is meaningful to you, and be given the space and freedom to unpack it."
Unpack it?

She refers to a band as playing "garage-rage." When can we just start calling things "rock and roll" again?

"I am on Chicago Tonight tomorrow, Tuesday. I GET TO TALK WITH PHIL PONCE. FOR SIX MINUTES. Totally unreal. If you have PBS and a Tv and remember to get a receptor box, see you then. Channel 11.I think it's on at like 7? I just painted my nails reggae for the occasion."
Painted her nails reggae? What the fuck?

She likes kittens. Big fucking surprise there.

"How bad do you wish you could take a happy baby sea lion 'prisoner' for a ride in your car? That is like #3 on my list of animal adventures I wish could come true. #1 is that my cats can talk #2 is to have a midget pony that I solve mysteries with. #3 is seal prisoner road trip."
Legally, she's an adult, probably in her late twenties-late thirties. Remember that. Remember what your grandparents were doing when they were her age.

"Night off in NY, I had the mammothest sushi at the macro place with the so-boss Mary Manning, We were in a hurry to get to the Agnes Varda autobiography movie, Beaches of Agnes or Agnes on the Beach or something. I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING BAD I SAID ABOUT HER EVER OR HER MOVIES. I GET IT NOW AND I WANT TO BE HER WHEN I GROW UP. But, anyhow, in my hurry, I just ate the middles of the sushi, leaving the gluteny tires of rice and s'weed making a sad DOOD face... Everyone needs to see the Agnes movie. The close up of a dying Jacques Demy's grey hair and arms I just sobbed sobbed sobbed. Partners, muses, aging, the grip of death--it was heavy as hell. It's nice to be home, and be presented with the futures new meanings."
So moving that she can't even bother to get the name of the movie right. And why was she in a hurry to see a movie by a person she'd said bad things about? That's alright. She gets it now, and wants to be her when she grows up. Wait. She is grown up, biologically speaking. All you fucking fucks are grown up. What do you do for anybody? What is your value? What do you do with those "new meanings" that the "futures" presented to you?

"Oh man. Not sure how today and yesterday or tonight can be topped. EPICS IN MINUTES, except the minutes were days. New York was major. I cried after I read, while at the podium in a room full of people whose work I admire, cohorts, relatives, my mom and sister, a step cousin, a dude whose grunge cover band I admired in high school, the people who work on my book at Workman, high school friends, transplanted bffs, people i did publicity for, people I work with on the radio show, the man who sold me his car, Girls Rock Camp staffers, the coolest girl a lame ex ever introduced me to, sister-authors, two young girls who called into the radio show today including the girl who wanted to know how do you know if you are talented, moms, chaperones, my oldest friend, feminist pen pals, zine people from the olden days, people I had not seen since 1995. It is just staggering to look up from reading behind this too tall podium and see a room full of people from every nook and cranny of your life. It felt so kind. I don't think I will ever get over it. My other favorite part ever, in a flash flood of favorites--a very young girl in the audience asked a technical question about a problem she was having in GarageBand and Jane answered it--but like 3 other lady hands all went up to offer solutions. What if that 10 year old girl right now is the Bjork of Brooklyn's future? What if by seeing hands of adult women fly up to help her, she grows up knowing full well that women are totally technically savvy audio engineers/etc. and it never occurs to her that that's not the case because she saw it happen. Do you know? Seeding a paradigm shift, right in the little moment--I saw it happen."
When my wife told a young girl where the bathroom was, I saw her seed a paradigm shift. What if that girl was the Shakira of Austin's Christmas past of the future today?

"Not to give the plot away, but in the Reader's Pitchfork guide, I said Fucked Up is the best live band at the festival. My editor thought I meant best band that day of the festival because it's such a commonly held idea/blf that The Jesus Lizard--undead, reunited, etc.--is the best live band at the fest, surely I am not saying Fucked Up are better than the Jesus Lizard. I am. I saw the Jesus Lizard at least five times between the ages of 15-20, and my opinion (previously chronicled in Hit it or Quit it issues #3 and #4) still stands: a killer rhythm section and Yow furiously tugging on his own penis do not make for the best show I have ever seen. Not even top 50. I remember enjoying Rollins Band shows more than JL. The last time I saw JL, Tanner opened and were better. So, no, their reunion is not the highlight of my summer. I think Pitchfork, for a truly don't-look-back moment should of had them play Shot in it's entirety, so the entire audience would be forced to face the reality that Jesus Lizard made some perfectly terrible albums before they hung it up. I am starting to think that 90's indie rock nostalgia is way more boring/offensive than the epicly chronicled, documentary-ized, coffee-table booked OLD HARDCORE DUDES 'WE STARTED IT ALL' memory lane that is actually a dead end culural cul-de-sac."
I know every opinion I've had between the ages of 15-20 still stands. Pulp Fiction is the greatest movie ever made. Shakespeare sucks and is boring. That one girl might go out with me. Eating Arby's, Hardee's, and Taco Bell for every meal will have no effect on my health. These opinions and more are chronicled in issues 3 and 4 of my zine, Hit it or Quit it. Also in issue 4, see my article, "That Band with the Awesome Rhythm Section Sucked So Bad that I Saw Them Play 5 Times Between the Ages of 15 and 20."

I know this silly woman's opinions are irrelevant and I am giving her more power by making fun of her, and she has published a book aimed at empowering young girls to play music (a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse, even if those girls deserve a better writer), but I am showcasing a smattering of her nuggets of wisdom as case file #1 of 76,000 in my efforts to convince the United States to invade every other country and reinstate the draft. President Obama will be sent a copy of this woman's prose, alongside the work of 75,999 other dumb white hipsters. The President and Congress will have no choice but to send all 76,000 and as many of their Facebook friends as can be located into battle. We will either save American culture or destroy it, but at least everyone with hair like the guy on the right and clothes like the guy on the left will be dead. In the unlikely event that these pasty hipsters somehow win the war, they will be driven into the Nevada desert and blown up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The name of my funk side project is ...

Hypothetical 3-Way

The name of my imaginary one-man funk side band comes from a discussion with my wife about our respective parent-child secret boyfriends and girlfriends: Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin for me, Tim and Jeff Buckley for her. We have given each other permission to have a three-way with our respective SGs and SBs, should the opportunity arise (regular one-on-one contact, however, is strictly forbidden). We're guessing the opportunity will never arise, especially for my wife, because both of her SBs are dead, but double especially because most people would not want to partake in a three-way with a member of their family. Nevertheless, if I ever become an international scenester, or if my wife gets access to a time machine and infiltrates the semi-underground rock scenes of late 60s/early 70s Los Angeles and early 90s New York, look out Penthouse Forum.

Unrelated note: While I was writing this post, a bunch of skinny-jeaned, anorexic, sweaty, stupid-looking indie-rock losers who have just moved into our apartment complex tried stealing the chairs and plant we have sitting outside our window, but I looked out the window, and they all took off. I'm not bragging one iota when I say I could have beaten all 15 of them to a bloody pulp single-handedly while holding the beer I'm drinking. And I'm a lover, not a fighter. I'm the kind of person who would lose a bar fight before it even started. And I would destroy these willowy, wispy, shitty little creeps.

Related note: My sentence construction was a little fucked up, so it reads like Charlotte Gainsbourg is Jane Birkin's mother. Charlotte is the daughter, Jane is the mother. If you're reading this, ladies, I have permission. Don't get creeped out. I'm cool.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chocolate Milk Death Metal Shootout

This is hilarious. Guitarist for death metal band Malevolent Creation, Phil Fasciana, claims that he stopped in at a Ft. Lauderdale convenience store to get some chocolate milk on Friday afternoon and walked into the middle of a robbery. He claims that the would-be robber, a crazed crackhead, fired four rounds directly at him but missed. He then tackled the robber and took his gun. The robber reached into his sock and pulled out another gun, so Fasciana shot the man twice in the head, killing him. Fasciana also claims that the convenience store owner is offering him free chocolate milk for his lifetime. Fasciana's own unintentionally hilarious account of the alleged robbery can be found here and here. My favorite part of his account is this gem, "It was the most fucked up thing I have ever been involved with, besides my ex-girlfriend!!"
Even more hilariously, Ft. Lauderdale police are emphatically insisting that the shootout never occurred. In fact, there haven't been any convenience store robberies in the city for an entire month, and no murders for a couple of weeks.
The message boards on the metal site covering this story are equally fantastic. Here are some of my favorites:
Domcoccaro writes, "Glad he set the record straight. What's everyone's favorite MC record? Mine would have to be Envenomed."
allihadigave writes, "Anyways, this story is going to put utter fear in the death metal listening to homeless crackhead community for sure. Now they fuckin' know, lol....."
And Then There Were None provides this poignant observation, "I don't follow this band, nor do I condone killing people, but, as said above, that is metal as fuck."
'OWNN-idge lays down this truth, "THIS JUST FLAT-OUT PLAIN RULEZ ALL-
Wet Toilet Paper makes us all think with this comment, "Alright well Phil deserves more recognition than a life time supply of chocolate milk for his courage and bravery. It'll at least make a kick ass album cover (like Stillborn). HEAD BANG TO THAT FUCKER!!!!"

Multiple metal fans have angrily responded to those doubting Fasciana's story by claiming that thousands of convenience store shootings happen in Florida every day and the police and news media can't possibly keep track of all of them. A skeptical, proactive metal fan has done some investigating to counter these claims: "Ok, the Sun Sentinal and the Miami Hearld, both ft. Lauderdale news papers, say it did'nt happen, no record of it as a story like this. You know this would have gotten lots of coverage. The ft. lauderdale police department (954 828-5700, criminal investigations) say they have not had a death / homicide involving a robbery this month and this did not happen. The County Medical Examiners Office (954 327-6500) said the whole county has not had a fatal shooting / homicide this month.

All of these agencies have gotten together in a conspiracy to keep this quite? Sombody would be talking about it. Check for yourself, make some calls.

As a matter of fact the only person talking about bit is Phill....

bangyermfhead agrees: "Awesome. Thanks for actually doing the legwork. This country is fucked up in a lot of ways but it cracks me up when people act like it's Escape from NY or Mad Max out there and innocent bystanders are just getting mowed down by the dozens on an hourly basis."

Then there's this.

And this commentary on MilkGate is also very funny.

I love this story, and I hope there will be new developments.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ridiculousness sticks to me like a magnet

13-hour drive yesterday + suppression of excess anger and confusion at the world and anyone who pressures you to aspire to a complacent middle class lifestyle and/or excessive consumer product purchasing + post-vacation depression + failure to re-acclimate to the brutal Texas heat after mild, beautiful Wisconsin weather + back to the office tomorrow + lack of quality sleep last night even though the quantity was there + no air conditioning in rock club + exhaustion + dehydration + three-fourths of the crowd leaving or playing with their phones during the show + bass drum pedal that kept falling off mid-song + drum set that partially collapsed during the penultimate song, which became the ultimate song + mild public meltdown + immediate feeling of embarrassment after mild public meltdown = Wednesday, July 8, 2009 in the life of Dr. Mystery. On the other side of the coin, I got free pizza. Suicide, you lost this round.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?": The Missing Link Between Rio de Janeiro and Hibbing, Minnesota?

Brazilian musician and songwriter Jorge Ben took umbrage at Rod Stewart's 1978 disco-inspired hit, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" and sued the rooster-haired Brit for plagiarizing his song "Taj Mahal." Listen to the two, and you hear a lot of similarities. Rod admitted he stole parts of the song and agreed to donate proceeds from the single to UNICEF to appease Ben. However, I accidentally stumbled upon another bit of Rod plagiarism from the same song when listening to a lot of Bob Dylan recently. A little organ vamp played by Al Kooper in the middle of "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" that is only repeated once sounds, to me, like it has been stolen outright and used as a major part of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?." Go to 2:59-3:08 on the Dylan video to hear it. I looked this up on the Internet and couldn't find anything. Surely someone else has noticed the similarity before.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Modern Age

When my paternal grandfather was in his early thirties, he was a WWII vet and owned his own farm. I spent the hour between 4 and 5 a.m. yesterday reading the comments posted under an Onion A/V Club article in which many people in their early thirties debated whether the TV sitcom The King of Queens was lowbrow or middlebrow.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Momentary diversion on the road to self-pity

Don't squirrels look hilarious when they're chewing on some food? Sitting upright, grasping onto a nut, chewing on the nut? Hilarious.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The rock and roll lifestyle

Hey friends,
Last night, the band I am in, The Spacenecks, played our first official non-house-party show at the Carousel Lounge. Many of our friends came and made it a good time, even though I was sick with a horrible cold and had a million pounds of snot coming out of every orifice except for my ass. Thanks for your support and kind words. I would also like to thank Rabbit Fist for playing with us, rocking, being stand-up nice people, and letting us use their super awesome set of drums. Finally, I want to thank my wife's archivist friends for buying me a beer. The lovely Spacebeer recorded a couple of our patented R&B slow jams and 16th century songs of protest. Here they are:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The future of America is in good hands

A student in one of the classes I'm observing/student teaching this semester told me that when he was in third grade he had an imaginary ice cream truck.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Louis Black Wack Attack

I decided some time ago to quit picking on Louis Black. After all, I'd made my point many times over. But a paragraph from his latest column made me do a triple spit-take, and I wasn't even drinking anything. Here it is, in its entirety:

"As I have walked along the everywhere boardwalk that we all stroll down, living the every day to every day of our lives, my gait has always been uneven, rarely displaying the nonchalant grace, or at least ease, of most others. Almost stumbling, I've never been terribly far from slipping off the solid wood boards into the endless sandstorms raging on all sides. Once the solid boardwalk is left, I find myself tossed around at the mercy of the tiny tornadoes of personal instability and an always-shaky grasp on reality."

Holy shit. That's a Bulwer-Lytton contest winner right there.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The plain truth

A couple of quotes, and a couple of other things:

from an interview with David Lynch:
Interviewer, about Lynch's comic strip, "The Angriest Dog in the World": "... (S)omebody said, 'The comic strip originated from a time in Lynch's life when he was filled with anger'..."
Lynch: "Yeah. 'The Angriest Dog in the World' wasn't really about anger in me, it was more (pause) anger in that dog."

Two girls, from the high school senior classes I'm observing and student teaching this semester:
Girl A, semi-accusatorily: "Why did you quit basketball?"
Girl B: "I didn't like the way Miss __ coached, and she was making me hate basketball. Why did you quit volleyball?"
Girl A: "My booty got too big for the shorts."

Speaking of high school kids, I think I'm going to love teaching them. Several of my college professors, past and present, have delivered elitist tirades about the lowliness and incompetence of high school teachers and how horribly they're doing their jobs, not to mention how unimportant those jobs are compared to the prestigious rarefied air of a tenured professorship. Most of this contempt comes from a combination of privileged upper-class snobbery and an ignorance and/or disinterest in actual good teaching. There are terrible high school teachers in the world, and a lot of them, but most college professors think that lecturing for the entire class period, and never varying their methods or getting to know their students as individual learners, is an effective way to teach. Never mind that a fucking century of research shows that this is the worst way to teach. Even bad high school teachers know this stuff -- they're just lazy and/or embittered. Higher education institutions place more value on research than teaching, and it desperately shows. I'm very glad that a handful of my friends are either professors now, or getting close, because they are curious, non-complacent, and driven people, and college kids deserve good teachers.
I'm just frustrated with the badmouthing high school teachers get from professors because the latter can't engage their students, even though they haven't varied their approach in 25 years. Somehow, it's the 9th-grade teacher's fault you suck as a professor. Some of these jerks can't even conceive that a bunch of 18-year-olds aren't wetting their pants about particle physics or Chaucer or the French Revolution, despite their non-student-centered dry lecturing and regurgitation-based tests.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Blogging from work

You know that noise Sideshow Bob makes when he steps on a rake and it smacks him in the face? I just found out that my whole body, particularly my bowels, makes that noise when subjected to "Birdland" by The Manhattan Transfer. Damn you, Absolute 70s radio!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lux Interior 1948-2009

A tough year for cult heroes born in 1948. Ron Asheton, John Martyn, Lux Interior. Who's next?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fun with media manipulation, 1980s-style

#1: Culturcide - They Aren't the World
#2: Negativland - Helter Stupid (newscast)
The ax murder story was a hoax perpetrated by the band, and several news media outlets reported it as fact.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Music nerd stuff

I've spent part of my week playing around with the newish iTunes Genius feature, which, besides shilling product under the guise of "suggestions" (why do they think Guided By Voices fans might also be interested in Bachman Turner Overdrive?), also makes some creepily intuitive playlists based on a song of your choice. Unfortunately, the song must be licensed by iTunes, so a lot of stuff both obscure and super-famous doesn't work, including my Bollywood steel guitar compilation and Beatles albums. The playlists also sometimes get repetitive, with the same songs showing up over and over again. However, this creepy robotic ghost DJ also makes some very interesting connections that flow together like a well-sequenced album. In one instance, robo-Genius followed The Pretty Things' "S.F. Sorrow Is Born" with Pere Ubu's "Non-Alignment Pact," which worked ridiculously well, transitionally speaking, and might never have occurred to me otherwise if I were making a mix. Just now, it included T. Rex in a playlist based on Prince's "Cream." If you were somehow able to exhume dead rock stars, give them the gift of life, and force them to cover songs recorded after their demise, I think Marc Bolan could do great things with this early 1990s Prince hit. Given the Bolan treatment, "Cream" could very easily be a T. Rex song. The lyrics are very T. Rexy, and now I'm wondering if Prince had T. Rex in mind when he wrote it. I never would have considered this without the Genius putting the two together. I also wonder if I'm being tricked into forcing a connection because of the cold, clinical robotic programming of a robo-DJ. If the computer starts making the equivalent of mix tapes on its own, what else will it do? Is this the continuation of a subversive plan to ensure man's enslavement by robots? Is this the rise of the machines? Whoot! Zap! Kablammo!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You have been challenged!!!!!

I was perusing the odds and ends in the fridge and liquor cabinet while considering what mixed drink to make, and I invented a drink that I think may be one of the most horrible intoxicants ever considered by anyone on a desperate night. So far, this drink only exists in my mind and has never been poured into a glass or consumed. My challenge to the five readers I have left after posting so infrequently is this: Make this drink, drink it, then post about it on your own blog, or, if you have no blog (loser), post about it in comment form under this post. I expect no one to take me up on this offer, but goddamn it all to hell, it's time for a meme that's not about something nobody gives 1/8 of a shit about. Whoo!

Sally Jesse Raphael's Last Night in Town
2 oz. tequila, preferably shitty tequila with not much agave that comes in a plastic container
6 oz. of low-fat buttermilk, brand of your choice
1 oz. ketchup

Drink tenderly and slowly, savoring each precious moment!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ron Asheton 1948-2009

Bummer. I was lucky enough to see him play live twice, once with J. Mascis and once with the reunited Stooges. One of my favorite guitarists.