Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Comics? Why not!

This just in! Campus police at Penn State University were rounding up citizens who were accused of not mourning Joe Paterno loudly enough at his wake last week....

My Celebrity Doppleganger

It has been brought to my attention that I bear more than a passing resemblance to a certain celebrity chef from Food Network. At first I thought it was just one person who saw the resemblance; Kelly, my friend from high school was the first to see it. And then people started to stop me in the grocery store, or at my wife's job, or at the mall where this one clerk at Spencer's Gifts did an actual jaw drop. I get about one person a month now asking if I'm him.

So, what do you guys think? Do I look like Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes?

A couple years ago I shaved off all my facial hair at the request of my wife, who had never ever seen me without it. I told her it was NOT going to be pretty... she took one look at me & laughed; needless to say I will never shave it off again. I looked like a middle aged Charlie Brown. But she also thinks that I bear a slight resemblance to Andrew Zimmern, host of "Bizarre Foods" on Travel Channel.

Dreamlike State

I've been a fan of the band Erasure for about 25 years or so. Comprised of singer Andy Bell and keyboard god Vince Clarke, they've created an incredible catalog of intelligent, danceable pop that never fails to delight me to no end. I've seen them 4 times; 1989 in Stuttgart, Germany, 1997 in Boston, and 2005 & 2007 in Orlando. They're one of those rare bands that sounds just as good live as they do in the studio on album, and the shows are always a fun, high energy party.

My first attempt at an Erasure video was for one of their B-sides, the gorgeous track "Dreamlike State" from their summer 1990 single release for "Star", from the album "Wild!". It's a fan favorite and has gotten a fair amount of views on YouTube. Enjoy!

I can see clearly now
As the crazy haste of night turns to morning
I lie in a dreamlike state
And wonder if the fear will go away

I know that you're here
In the space that surrounds me
And you make me feel like a kid in a movie
I know that you love me

Like the sound of the sea
Rush in to shore
The air that I breathe
Fills me with your love

I've wasted a thousand nights
For comfort in the arms of a stranger
I thought it would lead me on to
Bigger, brighter things

But you know that I'm wrong
It doesn't exist
And you make me feel like a kid in a movie
I know that you love me

Like the sound of the sea
Rush in to shore
The air that I breathe
Fills me with your love

Like the clouds in the sky
The rain falling down
Washes my feet
Pulls me to the ground

I'm begging you please
Never to leave me
I know you believe
In all I've said and done

And like the sound of the sea
Rushes to shore
The air that I breathe
Fills me with your love

Like the clouds in the sky
The rain falling down
Washes my feet
Pulls me to the ground

I'm begging you please
Never to leave me
I know you believe
In all I've said and done....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things You Left Behind

Any kid who went to a college party in the 80s knows who The Nails were whether you realized it or not. Why? Because every decent party in the late 80s had a smartass at the controls of the CD player who would slip in their song "88 Lines About 44 Women", a funny, quirky track where the narrator of the song sings a couple lines each about different women he's slept with. Years later it was even used in a Mazda commercial.

On The Nails' second album, the dark & brooding "Dangerous Dreams", the boys from Boulder had another single that was in the form of a list, a haunting track called "Things You Left Behind". The narrator of the song literally lists off a running tally of things that were left behind at an apartment by a girl he knew, a motley & assorted collection of the flotsam & jetsam of a person's life. You're left at the end still wondering if she just took off or actually shuffled off her mortal coil.

A pair of stockings, a pair of shoes.
A record by The Moody Blues.
A bottle of
Chanel No. 5.
A poster of a band called Dead or Alive.
A silk negligee and a black
garter belt.
A book about how to get to know yourself.
A shirt you adopted, used to be mine…
These are some
of the things you left behind.

Paintings painted by a man you knew,
someone you dated in '82.
An autographed picture of Junior Wells;
I didn't even know you liked soul that well.
Three pieces of paper with cryptic notes.
Cigarettes? You never smoked!
A bag of beads and fishing line.
These are some of the things you left behind.

A dozen contraceptive sponges;
(anyone here got a rhyme for sponges?)
Dental floss, some baby powder
fourteen cans of clam chowder.
Forgotten how much you liked that stuff.
Sex and clams; you couldn't get enough
Your driver's license in '79.
These are some of the things you left behind…

A pack of rusty razor blades;
you threatened to use those things one day.
A nickel bag of Mexican pot
you bought downtown in a parking lot.
A wedding band… Where'd that come from?
Forget to tell me about someone?
A bottle of cheap Italian wine.
These are some of the things you left behind.

A ticket stub to a Broadway play.
A button saying "Make My Day".
A broken mirror with a lipstick smear.
A telephone number where the name's unclear.
Two pressed roses in a blank paged book
containing all the notes that you never took.
A Valentine card saying "Please Be Mine".
These are some of the things you left behind.

A rosary, some holy cards.
A photo of your daddy's Brooklyn bar.
A list of possible job interviews;
a list I guess you chose not to use.
A glacine bag with a printed skull;
I didn't know things had gotten that dull?
A note on the door, one word, "Goodbye".
These are some of the things you left behind.

pair of stockings…
A garter belt…
An autographed picture of Junior Wells…
Dental floss…
Clam chowder…
A razor blade
Wedding band…
Broken mirror with a lipstick smear…
A valentine card…
A rosary…
A glacine bag…
Heroin? Oh shit, not heroin…
One word, tacked up on my door.
One word


The *other* thing that kept me from writing...

Back just before Christmas we received a bundle of joy into our home. Cute, cuddly, with bright blue eyes, just about 8 pounds worth. We got a Weimaraner.

A friend of ours had a spare puppy to get rid of, so we got a Weim for free, saving us anywhere from $400 to $800. I named him Rommel, after the famous German general, and so far he has been hell on wheels. I was a bit unprepared for how fast he was going to grow; at 6 weeks of age he was 8 pounds. At 12 weeks he's 25 and tall enough for the dachshund to walk under with clearance. If he follows his bloodlines, he'll top off at a hundred pounds of muscle.

At least he's finally stopped howling all night and is able to hold his bladder for more than 3 hours at a whack.

Moonlight Sonata

Yeah, my favorite band is Depeche Mode. Back in 1988, as a B-side to their European-only single "Little 15", the band included an achingly gorgeous version of Beethoven's Sonata #14, the Moonlight Sonata, performed solo on the piano by member Alan Wilder. Alan has since left the band to pursue a solo career under the name Recoil, but still remains near & dear in the hearts of Mode fans worldwide.

Back on June 1st, 2010 to commemorate Alan's birthday, I created this montage of photos of Alan throughout his career set to his version of the song. In my humble yet correct opinion it's the best version of this song I've ever run across, and remains to this day my favorite classical piece...hauntingly beautiful....

Fall Down

Back in the late 90s when I was living in Bangor, Maine, I caught the sound of bagpipes on my local college radio station. Intrigued, I kept listening and was taken in by a very cool song from a band I'd never heard of. Molly's Yes were from Tulsa, Oklahoma and formed in late 1996 from the remnants of a number of local bands -- frontman Ed Goggin tenured in Stephen Hero, guitarist Mac Ross was an alum of the Groove Pilots, and bassist Brad Mitcho and drummer Scott Taylor previously teamed in Glass House. Originally dubbed Blink, in the fall of 1997 the group adopted the name Pop Secret, finally settling on Molly's Yes in early 1999. Their debut LP "Paper Judas" appeared soon after, and when the band signed to Universal later that year, the album was reissued under the title "Wonderworld".

I loved the song immediately, and while the band never gained national fame I always held on to the song like some kind of secret treasure that I'd share with friends deemed cool enough. It was a song that I could never find a right & proper video for, so I opted to make my own. It was my first attempt at doing what I've started calling "Literal Image Video" a concept I stole from the 1988 video for Erasure's "A Little Respect", by where the images on screen represent a literal image of the lyric being sung at the time. Still pretty simple, but I was growing...

Under an emerald moon
'neath the sun's furious light
The center of a storm
Or the stillness of night
A million miles away
Or as close as your breath
Before you were born
Or mere seconds from death

When you fall down
I will pick you up
And when you call out
I will come to you I will come to you

On your wedding day
Or a funeral procession
A fleeting notion
Or a moody obsession
A shriek of a devil
Or the laugh of a child
A saint's fervent prayer
Or the call of the wild

When you fall down
I will pick you up
And when you call out
I will come to you I will come to you

And nothing you can do
Will drive me away
Will push me away
Will drive me away, away, away

When you fall down
I will pick you up
And when you call out
I will come to you I will come to you.


I've been a fan of The Cure since 1986 or so. It took a few listens to get into them, but by summer of 1987 I was pretty much hooked. I had the joy of seeing them live twice in the early summer of 1989 on the AMAZING "Prayer Tour" for the epic album "Disintegration", which to me is as close to a 100% perfect album as they have ever come. I used to listen to it on repeat for hours.

When the band released the album "Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me" and their 1987 single "The Catch", the B-side track was an achingly beautiful song called "Breathe". Later it was used as the B-side to the American versions of the single for "Just Like Heaven". It was the latter format that allowed me to hear it for the first time, in May of 1988 while on leave from the Army in between Military Police School and reporting to my unit in Germany. I met this delightful local girl named Bonnie who lived a few blocks away from my parents and we had a brief romance cut short by my having to report for duty overseas. We're still friends to this day, I'm happy to say.

While in Germany, I bought the vinyl single for "The Catch" and still have it in my collection. And "Breathe" is still one of my all time favorite Cure songs. The song is really only two members of the band performing; Roger O'Donnell's deeply lush orchestral keyboard arrangements layered upon layer, and the unmistakable voice of Robert Smith. This was only my second attempt at making a video, and for this one I reached into my personal archive of Cure photos on my hard drive to make it. Looking back, I see I made a few mistakes on it in the fades and in using one picture twice. Oh well; we learn from our mistakes.

Written on the grounds of Miraval, the remote French studio where the "Kiss Me" album was recorded, Robert had this to say about the song: "It's a song that means a lot to me. Lyrically it deals with a recurring Cure theme, that hopeless wanting for what has been, knowing that it is gone forever. Musically it's trying to capture the feel of late night Miraval... a beautiful world of stars and sighs."

Breathe on me
Be like you used to be
Breathe on me

Move in me
Be like you used to be
Move in me
Move in me

Be with me
Be like you used to be
With me
With me

He's back! But where's he been?

Hey there, readers! I bet you thought I'd stopped blogging completely?

Nah. I just branched out in certain other directions for a creative outlet. That, and the day job has REALLY been cutting into my time to write. And I also needed to break with my damned Farmville addiction. It used to be a fun time waster but now it's such a pain in the ass that it's like having a second full time job. There are probably real farmers who spend less time and aggravation on real farms than I've been spending on the 4 farms I operate in Farmville.

Whoa...what's this about another creative outlet?

Yeah, I started another obsessive hobby over the summer. As ya'll may recall, I am a serious music junkie. As such, I like sharing my musical tastes & findings with my friends on Facebook via the posting of videos from YouTube. However, many of the songs I would like to share lack proper videos, because they are album tracks as opposed to singles, or they are obscure versions or bootleg remixes not commercially released. In the back of my mind I have always wanted to be a video director as well as a rock star and much adored best-selling, I started making videos.

I lack serious video editing equipment. I lack the time to seriously pursue the projects the way I would like. Would I prefer to make actual film-type video productions with live people & what not? Hell yes. However, I am content for the time being to do still-photo slide shows that generally follow the storyline of the song or the general mood/theme of the song. My first few were a tad primitive admittedly and then I hit on something that has become a bit of a hallmark now for me: stark black & white imagery. I'll sometimes spend hours combing the web for the right images, and if I find one in color that I want to use, I'll then edit it in Photoscape , changing it to b&w and then darkening it up just right to suit my vision.

Some of the clips I've made have gotten very little traffic on YouTube while a couple others have become somewhat popular in certain circles. Part of the traffic problem has stemmed from having many of my videos blocked in this country and others by YouTube at the behest of pesky record labels who feel threatened by fans making their own videos to promote music they have the copyright to, or THINK thy own the copyright to. I say THINK, because in certain cases where my stuff has been blocked, the Powers That Be (namely Warner Music Group for the most part) think they have domain over unofficial bootleg remixes too. Hell, one track I used was immediately blocked WORLDWIDE in seconds, for a 25 year old song from a group that broke up years ago, but they felt the need to pee on my leg. But I have ways around this...

In addition to my YouTube channel I also have an account on another, lesser-known video website called Vimeo that isn't so uptight about things. They get less search traffic and I'm limited in how much I can upload weekly but I still get to post my stuff on Facebook and share it with my friends. It's been fun reading all the positive feedback and seeing how many channel subscribers I'm getting, much the same as I get a kick out of the positive comments and subscribers & readers I have here.

I have decided to start sharing my videos here in my blog to show ya'll what I've been doing instead of writing, and hopefully it'll get me started writing again too.

The first one up is the very first one I did, back in July of 2010. There were a couple videos available for "October Love Song" by Chris & Cosey, but not for the version I liked and none of the videos were very high quality. Looking back, I would rather have done a better clip but this was my experiment in how to use Windows Live Movie Maker (I taught myself along the way). It's a really simple slide show using some of my favorite artwork from the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the late 1800's. The time between picture flips is a bit long for my tastes now and it seems really primitive now but we all gotta start somewhere, no?

Chris & Cosey’s first single ‘October Love Song’ was released in 1982 by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, both previously members of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle.

you took my hand on the stair
no-one was around
you said we? could be lovers
i just had to say the word
only the afternoons were ours
the nights were full…
just full of silent love..

our hearts and my heart beating together, together forever, forever together...

days of October, our hearts together, beating forever, forever together…

just nights of silent love
we couldn’t touch
we couldn’t kiss
we were promised to another
but now we are together
just kiss me
and kiss me forever

Hold me...and light up my eyes...kiss me...just kiss me

our hearts and my heart beating together, together forever, forever together

days of October, our hearts together, beating forever, forever together…

Just kiss me and light up my eyes

make my eyes smile

Whisper words of love, words of love & life

The life we have together

I love you…I love you…. whisper to me when we touch….