Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Video

I really like this one, and not for all the wrong reasons like that awful music video. This is a parody show from 'Futurama' called 'Everybody Loves Hypnotoad.'

If you watch it the whole way through, let me know.

In Lieu Of An Update

I've got some work to...well...work on, so in the meantime I encourage you to check this out.

This is probably the most unintentionally funny (but deliberately gay - literally, as these guys apparently have a history) thing I've ever seen. My favorite moment is at 1:50. Just watch the right side of the screen. Guess no one told the Thin White Duke he was out of shot.

Such a horrible cover of a great song, too...The Who have a cover from the BBC sessions. Unfortunately, I can't find it on YouTube. Otherwise I'd give it to you to get the bad taste out of your mouth. (That's what she said.)


Saturday, February 23, 2008

How Do You Deal With A Human Parasite Who Sucks Not Blood, But Good Vibes Out Of You?

We'll get to the headline in a second.

I received a letter last night from the IU Dept. of Communication and Culture saying I was not chosen for admission into the program. Contrary to what I was told, there were 165 applicants for 18 slots - not 300 for 10, which I was told not once, but twice by the same person. On top of that, the letter made mention that this was a record number. Was I lied to? Was it an honest mistake? The answer is probably somewhere between yes and no, like everything else.

I don't think my tastes were too mainstream enough. Moreover, what I wanted to do was historical analysis: "Frank Zappa filmed 'Baby Snakes' in 1977, and it saw release in 1979." What they would have wanted was "Themes of Masculinity, Misogyny, and Patriarchy In 'Baby Snakes.'" Not every film is in need of being sat down on a couch and psychoanalyzed. Some simply need to be discussed for their merits as a form of art.

That said, I'm relieved. I had gotten sick of studying films. I'm more than comfortable studying them on my own - what I want, who I want, when I want, and not be graded for it - but I don't want to make a career out of it.

The recent developments of creating a fall-back plan for the second major (Rock & Roll History) also makes me glad that I wasn't admitted. Because it would have been a tough choice. Naturally, most people - maybe even most of you - would have said to accept the grad school's offer. But as I've mentioned in the fall, I'm tired of analyzing film. It has worn thin on me.

I'm not saying I will never return to it - not in the least. But what I am saying is I will not be returning to it anytime soon.

All right, moving on...I need real advice. And I ask you to take me at face value with this. But Shelley and I were hanging out last night, listening to a Kinks album. Shelley got up to go to the bathroom, and there, at 2AM, was David. He said hello, then invited himself in while Shelley was on the can. An hour and a half later, he left. And it's not like the room was aglow upon his entrance, nor did we enjoy his company.

I can accept and respect other people's opinions - Forrest and Matt are fine examples of this - so long as said opinions are backed up by knowledge. This isn't the case with David. I don't know if he thinks he's funny, but in discussing The Clash, he made a crack about them being "white boys doing reggae." A completely wrong and uneducated comparison between Lennon and Zappa was made, and instead of taking an awkward pause in the conversation and saying, Well, I oughta go...he had to make a funny about that, too.

What really gets my goat about him is that not only will he interrupt you, he will talk over you. My grandfather does that. What's worse is, in the course of a normal conversation, he'll be stretching out a joke to the nth degree while you're trying to speak - and he just won't shut the Hell up. But when he was doing it to Shelley I about lost it. I couldn't stand it happening with just me and him. I really couldn't stand knowing he's pretty indiscriminate about doing it to anyone else.

And he still does not know how to properly apply deodorant.

Before he left, he said he enjoyed talking with us and wanted to do it more. This is one time where I'm going to have to let my own desires dominate my humanitarian side. Acting the way he does is not socially acceptable. He won't go far in life interrupting people, being close-minded to other people's opinions to the point of insulting them, and being an out-and-out ass.

What am I talking about? This is America - if he learns that he smells like day-old crotch and remedies his heinous body odor then he could very well be on his way to becoming President of the United States.

Anyway - I'm fed up with this little bastard. I literally do not know what to do. Mom suggested I tell him I think he's annoying and smells bad. While I don't think it's necessarily that easy, the second half of what she told me was this: "If it's clear he can't take a hint that you don't want him around, then you have to be direct."

So, I ask you - how do I tell him that as much as apparently loves talking to me and thinks we're friends, I dread his company and do not consider him a friend but more of a pain in the ass?

Spare no mercy on this matter. I know I still have until early May to live with him, and as other people have said "You only have to deal with it until early May," but I don't care. He is not acting like a 20 year old, he is not acting like somebody fit to function in normal society. He's a pariah, and I don't want to be associated with him at all.

I am open to any suggestions, and don't think you are at all being cruel. I keep reminding myself if I start feeling that I'm being mean, "Wait, wait, remember how insensitive he is. Remember how rude he is. For God's sake, just breathe in."


Friday, February 22, 2008

A Polite Voicemail

"Hello, this message is for Mr. Viet Dinh, there is no need to call this number back. Mr. Dinh, I was wondering if you had any intention of apologizing to the nation for writing the USA PATRIOT Act. Thank you and have a good day."

It was liberating.

If you would like to leave Mr. Dinh a message, feel free to call him:

Bancroft Associates PLLC
(202) 234 0090

Don't hesitate to mention should he ever be considered a nominee to the Supreme Court, he should refuse such an offer. Apparently his name has been kicked around for such a purpose. Imagine him in the judiciary rather than as Deputy Attorney General. He could really do some damage there, don't you think?

And while you're at it, why not give Representative Jim Sensenbrenner a telephone call? He is the one who introduced the bill into Congress:

(202) 225 5101

Ask him if his refrigerator is running while you're at it.

This country owes both of these guys a debt of gratitude. Just think of all the lives they saved with all those thwarted terrorist attacks! Wait, the US Government hasn't prevented any real attack since 9/11? They've all been...nothing?



Friday, February 15, 2008

Plan B...Or, How I Spent My Valentine's Day

I should probably start first with the good news, because my day got ugly after about 10 PM.

Wednesday to Thursday sort of overlapped because I had to write a paper on Pushkin for my Russian Culture class, returned an overnight book to the library, submitted my paper, watched as my senile Russian Culture professor kept talking some 12 (!) minutes after class was supposed to end, ran to the Geology building across campus to my European History class, learned about the Italian Revolutions, and took the quiz...then walked back to Ballantine Hall and took my make-up quiz for Russian Culture that I missed Tuesday when I was sick.

Somewhere in there, between being at the library and submitting my paper, I had a meeting with the director of the Individualized Major Program. The man I spoke with also had a keen interest in rock music; I impressed him when I mentioned that I perused my dad's stack of 'Creem' magazine from back in the late 70's. We also both knew who Sick Man Of Europe was.

Another thing that impressed him was that my pursuits were academic. Apparently a lot of people take the courses in tandem with pursuing a career in the music business. (Emphasis on the business part.) I assured him not in a million years would I want to be a suit. I would have to do a final creative project, during which the word "publishable" was mentioned.

Anyway, this is an amazing option in the even I don't get into the graduate program. For a start, my generation is being encouraged to pursue two majors in college. Second, this will open up more doors for me - in the long run I want to write academically about rock music rather than film - and qualify me for a more broad range of graduate programs.

Aside from a very...weird...reaction from Mom about it that I won't disclose here, this would be a very suitable alternative.

My Valentine and I (I'm not talking) had dinner before I left town and had a cigarette on top of a parking garage downtown to enjoy the view. Then my car wouldn't start - the battery is dying on it. A mechanic came by to jump-start it right as I was scraping ice off the windshield. I slipped on some black ice and stopped my fall with the back side of my hand on some sharp, craggy ice. So now I've got this deep, nasty cut on my pinky that stings like the paper-cut from Hell. There was also a surprising amount of blood.

The drive home wasn't bad. I parked my car at the mechanic's and was picked up by my dad at 11:55, and we were home literally at midnight.

How was your Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Journalism Degree + Shithead = Owen Adams at The Guardian

I apologize in advance if this particular entry seems esoteric in nature. It mainly concerns the interests of Frank Zappa's fans versus the Zappa Family Trust. Hopefully at least 90% of the material explains itself.

This article in The Guardian by one Owen Adams was linked from my friends at killuglyradio.com.

Since the actual website didn't allow for a direct comment without registration, I commented on the Kill Ugly Radio blog.

But first, here's what I would have said in response to his article:
"I must first ask you how much the Zappa Family Trust (read: Gail) paid you to write this article. You are propagating an improper image of her as this weary rock widow who feels threatened by hordes of sub-Mongoloid fans, the fans who are fighting her tooth and nail to maintain a true portrait of Frank Zappa. A more accurate depiction of Ms. Zappa would involve a broomstick and possibly a cauldron.
Moreover, you clearly don't know shit from Shinola about Frank's attitude toward fan tribute bands. He was nothing less than flattered, while Gail - who had no real contribution to her husband's work - sees them as a financial threat to her organization. She must, otherwise she wouldn't have been serving tribute bands fronted by ex-Zappa band members (Project/Object, Ugly Radio Rebellion) with Cease and Desist letters.
Shame on you, Mr. Adams, for presenting a point of view that is harmful to the legacy of one of the greatest composers of the Twentieth Century, if not the holder of that title. Your article has only served to misinform the considerably higher numbers of readers you have in comparison to the blogs and sites maintained by Zappa's real fans.
Shame on you for making the claim that tribute bands are in violation of Frank's idea of 'conceptual continuity.' The ability to read one's mind does not exist in 2008, nor did it exist prior to December 4th, 1993, so don't even dare to claim you know what would or would not be in sync with 'the Big Note.'
Shame on you, Mr. Adams, for comparing Frank Zappa to Ron Paul. And double shame on you for using that chance to provide a link to Ron Paul's campaign website.
And lastly, shame on you, Mr. Adams, for even remotely giving off the vibe that you are a fan of Frank Zappa's music.
At least you are quick to admit all this legal drama detracts from what is most important: his music. Unfortunately, the Zappa fans who see through Ms. Zappa's various crocks of shit know the real threat to the preservation of Frank Zappa and his works aren't cover bands, they aren't statues, they aren't fan festivals, and they aren't even bootleggers (a topic worthy of a small book in itself) - it's his wife, it's his son, and it's anybody who thinks Dweezil has more of a right to play Frank's music with Zappa Plays Zappa than Ike Willis with Ugly Radio Rebellion or Napoleon Murphy Brock with Project/Object...or most heinously, the members of the original Mothers Of Invention in their own group, The Grandmothers.

And here's my blog comment:
"Has anyone entertained the idea that maybe they NEED the money? Think about it.

This Owen Adams was a right prick, starting off with “What is there not to hate about tribute bands?” Smug little shit, isn’t he?

Tribute bands exist for the fans - I was born seven years after John Lennon was murdered, and some 17 years after The Beatles’ last recording session. But I have seen two separate Beatles cover bands, and they were fantastic. One even did rarities they only did while at the Cavern or in Hamburg.

While watching them, I marveled at how much they sounded like the original, but I never thought to myself, “Oh, well, this is so much better.” Not in a million years. I went home and put on a Beatles album.

Adams misses the point: cover bands, whether it’s The Beatles, Zappa, WHOEVER, exist for the fans. I liked hearing “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” when ZPZ did it, but nothing trumps The Mothers’ version - no Jimmy Carl, no Ray, no Roy…

The article was published in a mainstream outlet such as the Guardian to win the uneducated masses over to GZ and her pitiful little cause. Compare the number of people who will read that piece of shit’s heartless tirade against the “laughably bad monument in Germany” with the number of people who will investigate the truth.

Quoth the master:
“I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you”
- "I'm The Slime," Over-Nite Sensation, 1973

Seems the ZFT are in cahoots with the very entities that Frank despised.

Meanwhile the only option we, the true fans of Frank’s music and his legacy, have are sites being threatened with C&D letters - and for what? Posting thumbnails of FZ’s album covers, AM-radio quality bootlegs (at NO cost - the digital equivalent of tape-swapping), and thinking the whole Freak Out! Ale was the stupidest thing since Joe’s Domage. Oh, wait…that was them, too.

Has anyone noticed at the z-pp-.com site they now boast the featuring of bootlegs on the streaming radio? How’s that for adding insult to injury?

We just have to keep on fighting, telling our Zappa-loving friends what’s really up, and always be quick to point out that both Jimmy Carl Black and Ike Willis hate this old battle-ax (JCB referred to her almost explicitly as “that wench”); that ought to speak for something.

Everyone else, from Owen Adams to the Zappa fans who rabidly support Gail? Sit back, sip your Freak Out! ale, tune in to Zappa Radio as they feature the Beat The Boots material, and rub one out while watching ‘Does Humor Belong In Music?,’ paying no mind to the blank spaces on your DVD shelves reserved for ‘Uncle Meat,’ ‘200 Motels,’ and ‘The Roxy Concert.’"

Sick of seeing the legacy of the idol of his youth sullied to no end,

Site Modifications and Notes On Honesty

I updated my profile - it no longer says "I'm 20 years old and go to college."

Also, I added a poll (changed weekly - you've got till 2/19 for this one) and provided some web links for your perusal, including three blogs.

In other news, I am looking into possibly pursuing and Individualized Major if I am not accepted to the CMCL graduate program. My hopes were further crushed when I bumped into my grad student friend who helped me with my statement of purpose and wrote a letter of recommendation for me. One of the higher-up professors (who I assume is on the admissions committee) bent her ear back a little for writing her recommendation letter.

Apparently they wanted just professors. This has me more than a little concerned; for one, I asked for the recommendation from the grad student in question not as a friend, but as a former student of hers. Some of the questions asked on the recommendation form regarding my creativity, ability to work in a group, etc. could only be answered by her.

Also, does this mean my letter from my high school English teacher, who I had for three semesters and witnessed my evolution as a writer - also my creative skills and functionality in a group - is invalid because he is a "Mr." and not a "Professor?" Ridiculous.

For some strange reason, there really are 300+ applicants to 10 slots in the department. How's that for disheartening?

That all said, I'm not without options. Prof. Hollinden and I met Friday afternoon so I could show him how to navigate Facebook and MySpace as a means of promoting his music. We spent about 20 minutes working, then the rest of the time chatting about all things Zappa and music. He sponsors my friend Laura, who is in the Individualized Major Program for Rock and Roll History, and said him sponsoring me was feasible from his end.

I emailed the department secretary and was told their earliest date of availability to meet with me was Friday. I'm supposed to go home Friday to get my car looked at (why not Bloomington? I don't know. What I do know is I'll be driving a car that needs to be looked at over 60 miles of hills and curves in the dead of winter.) and see Nick in a musical play at the community theater.

Granted, I am well aware of the fact that Seymour is only an hour away, but some days it seems like an almighty divide.

Other departments I'm looking into include Comparative Literature (the department that people from CMCL say "used to" house the Film Studies program - it still does, according to their site, and offers film classes more in my line of interest), Ethnomusicology, and Western European Studies. This is for my second major, not graduate studies.

I admit, applying to other programs for graduate school might have been more apt. But then again, I was told not by an advisor in the department in September (when I started looking into all this) but by a student in January that there's a lot of applicants. Moreover, I wasn't told until January that I couldn't get all three degrees here. Just two.

So where will I be in five years? Ideally, I'd be at the University of California in Berkeley, getting my Ph.D. in film studies, and drafting up semester-long courses on Rock Music In Film and The Films Of Charlie Chaplin. Or I could be...somewhere else. I really don't know.

The Alex who wrote this blog a year ago, even six months ago, would have balked at the idea of uncertainty in his life. But I've learned to relax. I'll get to wherever I need to be in due time. Rather than jump the gun for what I will be doing this fall, I need to focus on my present courses. (They fall between "moderately interesting" and "pain in the ass.")

With all this stuff hanging in the balance, it's best to kick back and enjoy the suspense. Let's face it: how much more suspense will there be in the course of my life? Anticipating whether it's a girl or a boy, being considered for a pay raise...it's not like I'll wrap up college and live the life of James Bond. I have intentions of traveling, possibly in the name of "research," when in fact I really just want to see the world, but there's no international espionage involved.

Did I mention already in an earlier post that I told my parents about the apartment? Sorry if I did...anyway, they were a little upset they were committing their money to something "before [I] had told [them] about it." So I guess all the arguing in October about it was just hot air. "We'll pay for it, but you really should have consulted us first," which I did.

The email I sent detailing it all contained the costs. Even I was floored by the amount of money saved with the apartment compared to the dorm. And that was just using the dorm rates for 2007-2008. That says nothing of the fact that next school year the rates will only be bumped up.

We're saving something like $8,000. And instead of being told I'm a smart shopper, and to thank Graham for finding such a bargain, well, you saw.

One thing I still need to work on is being totally honest. (Like the fact that I signed the contract when I did, maybe? I'm not one to let people assume something false about me, but when Mom said, "You're just showing us that because you're 21 you're independent now," I realized this is one of the few times where it would be best for me to keep my mouth shut and let them assume. I would only be making it worse.)

If they ever did rediscover this thing, I'll say this: I wasn't 21 when I signed the contract. A series of events and holidays occurred that - at least in my mind - stunted the practicality of breaking the news. I broke up with Kate, then the GRE preparations began, classes escalated towards the end of the semester, Thanksgiving, the GRE, final projects, finals, Eric's engagement, Christmas, going to New Albany for New Year's, starting classes, and my birthday.

I wanted to tell them, and it wasn't easy NOT telling them. I wouldn't want to give off the vibe that I'm some pathologically lying sociopath. There certainly was a burden of guilt on me, wanting to tell them but waiting for the opportune time.

Anyway, yeah, total honesty. My roommate needs to realize his idea of joking by insults isn't funny, it's just rude, that he needs to respect other people's tastes and interests, and that he really, REALLY needs to learn how to apply deodorant. I know he has it, and yet...there's a funk hovering. And yeah, I hope he reads this. He needs to learn some elementary rules of social grace - like insulting a song when someone's listening to it, knowing when one has overstayed their welcome, engaging in conversation instead of forced awkwardness (because it's not funny,) and moreover when his friends cancel their plans with him, it's not because they're just "unavailable," they are deliberately canceling their plans with him.

Normally I would think that's mean...but just like Jim talking about Dwight, "I thought about all those pranks I pulled and how childish they were...and then he spoke." Just when I begin feeling some sympathy for him, *knock-knock*. There he is, wanting to hang out, and within five minutes I realize just why I keep my door shut and locked unless I'm shaving, showering, or shitting.

Everything is a joke to him, like the time he made me cook for the birthday party he threw for himself...and only three people attended. While I was in the kitchen grilling shit, I assumed he would join me to help. I walk back to the room, and he's grooming himself. And he didn't come to help me.

He doesn't realize that was the day I decided I hated his guts and wanted to knock his teeth out. To him, it's a big fuckin' joke.

You know what? I really hope he reads this. Someone needs to tell him, because anybody I know who meets him gets the same vibe.

As for other people, I really wish my brother Nick would reconsider being a preacher. He's too smart and talented in other fields to pursue a degree in an elaborate bedtime story for adults. My brother Eric needs to get out of Seymour, and I hope he thinks of his job on the radio as a stepping stone, not a career.

My parents need to get more sleep - being up until 1 AM and waking up at 6 or 7 is barely healthy behavior for a college student, never mind 50 year olds with jobs. And since Dad hates CVS so much, he needs to do something like put a career profile online and find something he would love to do. And as much as I love Mom, I don't care how much money the job she has right now yields...it is a ticking time bomb with regard to finances, and again - find something she loves. They both love working with kids, and yet their jobs don't allow that. (Mom used to work in the Pediatric ward at the hospital, and despite my claim that "Dad hates kids," that is nothing short than a dirty lie.)

I really don't think I'm going to work with Eric Condon again. At least not under the guise of it being a band. As a hired player, absolutely. I would be down there in a heartbeat. But I don't want to go down there thinking it will be collaborative. We're both talented musicians, and I love working with him, but it's his stuff. I don't write music, and like Brian Wilson or Frank Zappa he has an idea of what he wants his songs to be like before they are even recorded. And that's great, but I like where I am now musically where there is a four-man unit working together, and everyone's say is as equal as the rest.

Lastly, Kate was a terrible girlfriend. When I did see her, she could be insensitive to whatever was going on in my life - I don't even think she could feign excitement when I told her that Eric and I were for sure going to record the Hobbyhorse album - but expect me to be there for her when she was in tears due to homesickness or because so-and-so had been lying to her about her friend and starting a fight between them. In her sophomore year of college, and she's homesick and the victim of junior high gossip. I frequently got ditched by her on weekends because her super-bossy, overprotective roommate wouldn't ask, she would TELL her what THEY were doing this weekend. What's more, her roommate for whatever reason didn't like me. And any time I had a problem or a complaint, instead of just talking, Kate would storm out like a six year old brat and tell all her problems to...guess who?

Everything added up and came to a head that weekend in November. We had plans for Friday night, but her roommate wanted to hang out. As a matter of fact, I think Kate told me she had said she felt she wasn't seeing enough of her. They LIVE together. A few days prior they spent Halloween together while I hung out with Laura and Shelley, eating candy and drinking slushies from a gas station.

Anyway, I told her that we'd made plans to go out on a real date instead of just sitting around my room on a weeknight. Plans she'd agreed to. (This wasn't the first time this had happened.) She promised me she would go out on a date the following night. So I wound up chilling with Graham that night, and it was fine.

So was our date, actually. Afterwards, Shelley and I were going out for a cigarette, and we saw an ambulance outside. Our friend Andrei was there, and said, "Something happened with Kate." At first I thought he was joking, but then he told me that her roommate was arguing with her and she collapsed.

You better believe I was seeing CRIMSON. I could have kicked the door off of its hinges.

While we were sitting in the waiting room of the ER, Andrei was telling me that Kate's roommate was out drinking with him. She was going on all night about how she was mad at Kate for breaking her plans with her that night, and she didn't know where she was. Then their "friend" (the one who was gossiping between the two of them to start a fight) said that she'd heard Kate was going to be living with me next year in the apartment.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: after dating Shelley, I decided living with a girl is about the dumbest thing one could do. I had established that fact with Kate. I told her that if we were still dating when I was in the apartment, she could come over all she wanted, but when it was bedtime I would take her to wherever she called home and sleep alone. I also let the world know I was living with my best friend and his boyfriend. Not quite the same as living with my girlfriend.

So when Kate's roommate heard this steaming pile of horseshit, she got even more angry. Andrei told me she had said to him, "You've got to be on my side with all this," knowing he and I were friends. That is what they were arguing about when she fainted of a potassium deficiency. And as I learned later, her heart could have stopped.

I'd had it with Kate being bossed around, and when I finally talked to her about everything the following afternoon, I mentioned everything Andrei had told me. She responded with, "Well, it's Andrei." Yeah...but why would he lie about all that? Never mind their so-called friend's reputation of lying for the purpose of instigating drama.

So I sent a long message to her roommate, leaving little room for decorum. I told her if she wanted someone to boss around she needed to adopt, if that provides any hint regarding its content. And to avoid any possible slant being put on it when it was inevitably shoved under Kate's nose, I sent her a copy, too. Kate wrote back to me saying she'd never been as mad at someone as she was right now, and that her roommate just came in thinking she was about to have another fainting spell...

...and I told her it was clear we needed to talk. And I wasn't going to deal with her stomping out in a flair of drama. We either talked or it was over. She came right up. There were a lot of things to talk about. She told me I was one of only four people she called a friend that she truly cared about and loved. None of the other people she named was her roommate. That was flattering. And I told her that she was being lied to about what exactly transpired Saturday night.

It was tough. I asked her to let me sleep on it, because I was on the fence over whether or not we should go on dating. When things were good between us, it was great. But there was a lot of drama, and while I'm not one to tell someone else what to do, she needed to get those two harpies out of her life.

She wasn't happy with my decision to break up, and wanted to maintain a friendship.

But, as was the case Friday when she saw me on the elevator with another girl (Laura) and said "Oh, I'm going to take the stairs," I'm pretty sure that's been ruled out, too. She might be passive, she might be a floor-mat for her "friends," she might be a total pothead...but I'll give her this much: she's smart.

See now why I didn't want to immediately disclose all of this information when it happened? Never mind all the ins and outs, but it encompassed a ridiculous amount of bullshit. He said this, she said that...blah, blah, blah. It's the kind of garbage I thought I was getting away from by going to college. But, as Condon pointed out, and it's only become more obvious to me...college is just advanced high school. It's easier to fit in because there's more students, but there's still drama, there's still sports, there's still white trash, there's still nutcases around that think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and engineered 9/11. There are people my age who actually support Mike Huckabee.

Unlike Condon though, I can't be bitter about my place and time in the world. That's his problem: he and I are similar in that we hate stupid people, but he's too bitter. Daniel told me I was the only friend Eric really made in college. That is really, really sad. The lobby of my life has a revolving door, and sometimes people go in and out all too quickly (that's what she said), others stay on. Some people leave and come back, others don't. That's just how it is.

A year ago, Eric had just created the Hobbyhorse MySpace. Two years ago, I didn't know him, I didn't know what a Heliocentric was, and if you had told me I would spend a Friday afternoon visiting with Andy Hollinden I would have first said, "Who?" Then you would have said, "Oh, he teaches the Zappa class." And then I would have laughed.

Turning to the Gospel of Frank:
"You can be scared when it gets too real/But you should be diggin' it while it's happening/'Cause it just might be a one-shot deal."
- "It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal", Waka/Jawaka, 1972.

You best believe I'm diggin' it. In many, many ways.

Oh, well. I'm happy where I am now.



Where are the readers? I'm writing this just as much for (most of) you to peruse as a way of knowing what's up in my life, possibly inspire some intelligent debate, and provide some amusement in the same way that I write this for myself as a means of introspection, self-analysis, and to flex my creative writing muscles.

I like comments. It lets me know I have readers (I don't have a hit counter, mind you), and is a way for me to keep up with you.

If I don't get comments, this blog won't exist.

Friday, February 8, 2008


There's a lot of interesting stuff going on for me as a musician. Thank God for the art of the interview, conducted by an anonymous friend:

First of all, give us some Hobbyhorse-related news.
Over New Year's, I recorded my stuff for the Hobbyhorse album, which I'm guessing will really be titled The Ballad Of... and not Alone Or In Pairs. I still prefer the latter, since Rundgren fans will see the derivative. (It's not even a good album of his; Runt and A Wizard, A True Star are my favorites.) Anyway, the tracks are all done, Eric has to piece together the best take of this with the best take of that to make the song complete.
How did it go?
It felt more like sessionwork. Since the tracks were already done before I had even heard most of the demos, and the digital rhythms were unfortunately inseparable from the master tracks, recording on my end didn't feel much at all like being in a band. We re-recorded "Fuzzy Zoeller House Party '98" from the bottom-up (yours truly contributed a truly shitty bassline), but other than that I was behind the kit, Eric behind the computer. A few times Blake (Thomas) and I messed around and Eric recorded it, but I highly doubt it will turn up anywhere. We made some stabs at "Stroll On" and "I'm Not Talking" by The Yardbirds, then a really shitty rendition of "Misirlou" and a reggae tune, stereotypically named "Smoke Pot."
What do you see in the future for Hobbyhorse?
I'll probably always be Eric's go-to guy as a drummer while I'm within 150 miles of him, but Hobbyhorse is his thing, really. I'm just along for the ride. It's a chance for him to electrify his songwriting, which is good whether it's just him and an acoustic or him on three tracks (vocal, guitar, bass) and me providing the drum parts. Just being able to work with a musician of his caliber for this long has been a blessing from the music gods. If the whole thing fell apart tomorrow, I could go to my grave cherishing that much.
That's awful grim, you aren't predicting all that, are you?
If we were to become what I'd call a fully functional band, we would have to expand our line-up, and we're already having a tough time with me being in Bloomington and him in New Albany. Maybe we'll become a pair that features an assortment of bass players, keyboardists, etc., with Eric and I remaining the core members, but the thought of a second album is projecting way into the future for me.
Were there delays in recording?
We started talking about recording in September and October of 2007, it wouldn't be another two and a half months before it actually happened. And that is nobody's fault, I had a busy semester both academically and in my personal life. When we did get together it was more catching up and hanging out than talking business. Thankfully, my winter vacation was pretty laid-back, so we made it happen then. It made for a great way to end a real roller-coaster of a year.
Any chance of a show or series of shows?
I really don't know how we'd play live, were such an event to occur. The likelihood of that is unfortunately slim, as this semester is mentally taxing and I'm still in Grad School Application Limbo. Another reason for this probably not happening is the fact that transporting the drums, as I learned three weeks ago, is an all-day thing. The actual loading part was nothing; Eric and I just love sitting around and generating hot air. Still, the drive from New Albany to Bloomington was a bitch, especially going thirty hours without sleep.
How did that happen?
I had gone back to Seymour to catch Todd Rundgren with my dad, my brother, and his fiance up in Indianapolis. It was the loudest damn thing I've experienced in my life. It was painfully loud, and I can say now in retrospect that it made the show suck. Had I brought earplugs, it would have been trumped only by my seeing Ray Davies in March 2006. We bumped into Glenn Gass and his wife there, and I have to say introducing even a mellow, non-academic brand of professor as Dr. Gass to my dad was a trippy experience. Still, Glenn was one of my top choices of "Professor I would introduce one or both parents to." They chatted briefly about the guitars and effect pedals.
My ears were ringing so bad I could not bring myself to sleep that night, so I didn't. I went down to New Albany, already prepped to catch some z's before I even left Seymour. Eat Me, Drink Me kept me company on the way down - a touch of nostalgia, as I first listened to that album coming BACK from New Albany after getting back from Alabama - and I perked up once I engaged in some human interaction with Eric.
I stayed way too long, though, just shooting the shit. It wasn't until after sundown that I left. I don't need any other proof that there is a God, because I drove something like 110 miles - one extended blink away from falling asleep at the wheel - and I made it back to Bloomington in one piece.
Do you think you used up one of your nine lives that night?
I'm so sure of that. In a parallel dimension, I fell asleep at the wheel and died. I still can't fathom how I did it other than a guardian angel. That and some raucous punk music with the window rolled down, keeping the car a brisk twenty degrees. That's without wind chill!
What has become of your association with Flaming Chip Records (FCR)?
I was only associated with it because Eric and I formed Hobbyhorse after leaving The Heliocentrics about 13 months ago. It was the label that distributed Eric's stuff, so by default that would be Hobbyhorse's label. One by one, the MySpace was created, we jammed like it was going out of style, Eric kept writing songs for both the band and his solo album...
Then came a barrage of years-old turmoil reignited after the beach trip in August and a barrage of Facebook notes by Rick, Ian, Anthony, Eric, Sarah, and Daniel. I had thought there was some reconciliation when I saw Anthony at Eric's gig on 9/30/07, but I had assumed wrong.
Without divulging details that are still on some levels fuzzy to me, especially as "the new guy" in the picture (or as Rick lovingly dubbed me, "Fuckin' Johnny Comelately"), the main underlying point was that Eric felt he had no choice but to say that either all this bullshit gets worked out or he is going to leave FCR.
So what happened?
Well, again, to make a long story brief...Eric left FCR. I told him at the time he gave Anthony this ultimatum that as a member of his band I stood unflinchingly in support of whatever he chose to do. Some talk jokingly came of the boys staging an FCR mutiny and making it THEIR label, but the next best thing happened.
Well, cut to: Mid-December 2007. After coming up to Bloomington for Andy Hollinden's show, Eric filled me in that nothing had changed, things had certainly not gotten better, and dick had gotten resolved. So he, Rick, and Blake decided to form Kyle McCafferty Records. It was originally to be abbreviated K-Mix Rex, but it's turned into Caf Recs. Again, by default, I would be on this label as part of Hobbyhorse.
Just as a drummer?
Apparently not. Eric made mention of me recording something for the good of the cause, and not necessarily music.
Are you going to pull a Biafra/Rollins thing and do some spoken word?
More like I'll go around recording whatever, be it conversations, sound effects, maybe some remix work in the same vein as my Beatles mash-up from last March. I would like to add that that piece, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Suite," would most definitely be a contender for my album.
Can you divulge any further hints?
Well, as I've indicated before, I have run into some microphone trouble, so once I get set up with another one of those I'll be in business. I'm not one for unleashing spoiler-esque details regarding creative content, especially since so much of what I want to do can evolve so rapidly. I mean, there's the fact that what I intend on recording is so off-the-cuff that that factor alone will shape the tone of the pieces, never mind happy accidents. I predict it will be a shoestring-budget version of Lumpy Gravy.
So music, dialog...any weird snorting sound effects?
Not so much. I know plenty of interesting people here in town that could yield some fascinating subject material, so there's the dialog. I might bastardize the Hobbyhorse demos into background music, as well as the few homespun tracks I made back in September. I'm also sitting on a treasure trove of crap from my videos, going as far back as the summer of 2006.
So hypothetically, I could take some dialog from then with some dialog from now and have it so Scott Johnson is having a conversation with Laura Furman, whom he's never met.
I can't make too many promises in this department, and as such I shouldn't. It will be weird.
Any more mash-ups?
A couple have occurred to me. I mean, that Beatles one just snapped together like a puzzle. I got a request to do one for the solo Beatles, someone suggested a Kinks mash-up, someone else even tossed Zappa into the fray.
What's the likelihood of any of those?
Well, I don't know. One thing that pissed me off on that Love album was that they slowed down the intro to "Blackbird" so it would synch up to "Yesterday." It sounded like the damn song from Brokeback Mountain! So to that end, I've got a few picky rules, like don't mess with pitch - audiophiles out there like myself will have a shit-fit if I did that.
I don't know, solo Beatles would be a stretch. I don't really think any of them had stuff that sounded remotely similar. George and Ringo I could have some stuff overlap, and Paul aped John on "Let Me Roll It," but I don't think it could go four ways.
With double the albums put out by The Beatles, it would be tough to do The Kinks. I'd hate to just reappropriate their greatest hits - Ray had the band do that back on SNL in 1977 with an "oldies" medley - but I can't think of too many people that would sprout an erection if they heard "Lavender Hill," "Mick Avory's Underpants," "Slum Kids," "Kentucky Moon," and "Artificial Light" all jammed into seven minutes. Maybe Blake Thomas, but that's about it.
Now, I just mentioned that The Kinks having something like 26 official releases is enough of a trial. Um, Zappa? We're looking at 80+ albums, all my bootlegs, variance in sound quality from the moderately recorded Freak Out! to some shitty official live material (Fillmore East) to live material so well-done it sounds studio done (Sheik Yerbouti), slick studio sounds (Joe's Garage, One Size Fits All), orchestral pieces, and literally all-digital recordings (Jazz From Hell, etc.) That would be tough, having to decide literally what element of Frank's music to showcase in a mash-up.
At least Frank championed that whole xenochrony thing, so rhythmically it wouldn't necessarily have to make sense - witness "Friendly Little Fingers" on Zoot Allures: completely separate tracks melded together to make a relatively cohesive track. But then again, he almost exclusively did that with guitar solos, not songs.
The jury's still out on the whole "what's gonna be on the album" thing.
You mentioned bringing your drums to Bloomington rather than Seymour. What's going on?
I auditioned back in September for a local metal group called Overhand. I really missed playing after doing it all summer long, and especially while in the Zappa class. All the discussion of tightly-knit ensembles doing intricate music was killing me. I consider it the musical equivalent of looking at porn and not being able to jack off.
How did the audition go?
Apparently it went great, the drummer I was replacing I learned really liked me, and the rest of the band thought well of me, too.
So what happened?
I declined. Their style didn't really mesh with mine. Their drummer, Bryan, was bitchin'. It was clear to me hearing him play that he was rooted in jazz drumming, and that's an approach I couldn't musically bring to the table. But everyone was very cool and understanding about it. Their lead singer, Joel Barker, promised me at some point we would work together.
And what is the status of Overhand?
Bryan left because he was shipped out to Iraq, their keyboardist is moving or maybe already moved to San Diego, and things were I guess just getting stale. They all seemed like great guys, but Joel tapped me early last month about being his drummer for a new group.
Do tell.
Well, the guitarist (Alex Haidar) and the bassist (Andrew Davis) both knew Joel from work, so we sat down on a Sunday afternoon and discussed what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go as a band. It seemed we had similar goals in mind, or were at least agreeable enough with one another that things would go smoothly.
Does the band have a name?
As it turns out, no matter what name we choose in this day and age is already taken by some other band. The Heliocentrics had to change their name (or at least felt they had to) because of a jazz group with the same moniker. We've chosen Viewers Like You as our band's name, and after a search found other bands calling themselves that all over the place, from reggae to whatever.
Are there any other name options?
We're not too worried about it. I'm pretty sure we'll never need to worry about sharing the bill with any of these other bands. Besides, the only way to create a truly unique name is to have one of those stupid, semi-cutesy, uber-trendy, waaay esoteric and excessively long band names like all the fuckin' "indie rock" groups that the hipsters bow down to. The rest about VLY is under wraps. We've got a MySpace, but it's going to be launched for real on 2/14/08 with pictures and some audio of the band members discussing our formation, our present, and our future.
Why such harsh words about hipsters?
They're phonies. I don't know how it is elsewhere, but given that indie is a word derived from independent, I just find it extra fishy with all the musical groupthink going on among that culture. Not subculture - it's a culture. These guys can tell you all you need to know about The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, but don't know shit from shine-ola about Sleepwalker or Schoolboys In Disgrace. Hell, you'll be lucky if you find one that owns a copy of Arthur.
Despite the hatred of corporate greed they still read Rolling Stone, they'll tout how much they miss old school Nickelodeon shows, and all the modern shit they dig all sounds the same. Layers of acoustic guitars, tuned percussion, tambourines...it's all ripped off either The Kinks, Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, The Velvet Underground, or The Smiths. It's not even a good rip-off. I'll give Oasis that much. Sure, they ripped off The Beatles hard-core, but at least it sounded good. This is all shit.
Is there any modern stuff you enjoy?
The White Stripes, Manson's new album was great, and other acts still carrying the garage rock torch without unplugging and completely pussying out. They're the ones that are keeping rock and roll at least on life support.
What would you like to see in indie music?
I don't necessarily despise paying tribute to your idols, just do somebody who's worth it and do it well. I'd like to see the indie rockers emphasize more on the rocker part, enough of this coffeeshop-frequenting, sweater-donning crap. Put on those t-shirts you've mothballed since Wes Anderson began dictating both your dress code and your iPods and rock out with your cock out.
Is there any other genre of music you feel needs some prodding?
Punk music. Stop pandering to the same imaginary 12 year old boys and girls that the marketing bigwigs at the labels aim their sales at. Get your asses out of Hot Topic and leave the stragglers for the emo cutters to prey upon. Put some substance into your lyrics. What happened to Rock The Vote? Did it only matter when there was a fleeting chance Bush could get knocked off his high horse and onto his scabby, power-usurping ass? It seems now that since Bush has got less than a year left to carry on, we really don't care who replaces him.
But we should. Both McCain and Clinton will goosestep us into a war with Iran, one that will stretch our armed resources so thin that we may very well see another draft. Take good note that the USA Patriot Act is still in effect, domestic wiretapping has been extended, and the government is refusing to investigate the waterboarding-as-torture allegations. Despite their seemingly thorough disdain for such policies, the Dems want this just as much as Bush and his band of outlaws did.
Unlike the other Clinton, this one is bound to make some major mistakes in terms of policy-making. McCain wants us to stay on in Iraq until 2108 evidently...
Any suggestions?
I'm not kidding: get your passports in order and start shopping for plane tickets. It doesn't matter if it's Canada, France, Cuba, Finland, wherever. If you don't like where this country's headed, get out. It's one option the conservatives have been recommending to us liberals since 9/12/01, and I just might have to take them up on it.
Finally, what were your New Year's resolutions?
To finally kick smoking, to be nicer to my fellow man, to remain actively political even if it means getting blacklisted, possibly organizing an angry demonstration on a dreary Wednesday this November, and keeping my private life private. That's what got me into trouble with my blog back last March. I'll discuss music, I'll talk about the band, I'll tell you about car trouble...but what I do and with whom remains between me and whoever she may be.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Revolution In Chad


Read all about it, because CNN is covering only one element of this: that the American and French embassies are being evacuated. That was it - a brief mention, which made it seem like rampant chaotic violence threating fellow white folk overseas. No mention was made regarding what the revolutionaries are fighting for. None.

What they AREN'T telling you is that President Idriss Déby is responsible for Chad having the most corrupt government in the world. Just what has he done to make him seem such a bastard? How about the World Bank giving him $30 million in aid to feed his nation's poor, which he instead spent on arms to keep his regime in power.

These revolutionaries are standing up to a corrupt leader and voicing their support in democracy. And please, call them for what they are: they are REVOLUTIONARIES, and NOT rebels! This is a situation where I AM condoning violence, as it truly is their only hope against such a crooked government.

Fight the power!