Archive for August, 2012

Five Songs, Part 94 (the Clint Eastwood edition)

August 31, 2012

The bad and the ugly. Photo via CBS News.

Well, it’s the day after the Republicans wrapped up their relatively (and brazenly) fact-free convention, and it’s not saying much that the most talked-about moment last night wasn’t the nominee’s speech — it was the mad, off-the-cuff, 82-year-old ramblings of a screen icon known for few words of gravitas in public, and great control and nuance on screen and off.

Can’t go into this Labor Day-weekend edition of Five Songs without thinking of the once-mighty Clint Eastwood, flailing wildly at 70 mph breaking pitches at the end of his legendary career.

Anyway, have at it. And don’t labor too hard this so-called Labor Day weekend …

BTW: If you like the fruits of my labors on this site and feel they might be worth something, feel free to hit the button at the bottom. Thanks!

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly — Ennio Morricone

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly — Hugo Montenegro

For a Few Dollars More — Ennio Morricone

Rowdy — Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood — Gorillaz

Los Rancheros — Adam & the Ants


These were the days of miracle and wonder (Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012)

August 25, 2012

Yesterday was one of those days where I could proudly tell two later generations, “I remember when I was your age.”

It was one of those days where I could say it sadly as well. And not because the subject of this post has transcended space one last time.

Neil Armstrong’s death has evoked strong response from those of my generation and older, but I’m guessing there’s much raging indifference from the generations before who weren’t alive to see him walk on the moon in 1969.

It’s hard to imagine — in an era where the only technological event that makes anyone go gaga is anytime Apple unveils an overpriced, overhyped new toy to render the overpriced, overhyped new toy of a year ago obsolete — that there was a time when space launches and lunar landings were big news. And Apollo 11’s Eagle landed on a summer Sunday, but in general, balky, snowy TVs were wheeled into school cafeterias and auditoriums for kids to see space missions.

The recent landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars, as seen over the Web, did bring back some of that feeling. (Only with blue shirts, a multicultural crew, both sexes and and a Mohawk at JPL, rather than the roomful of white guys with white shirts and black ties and pocket protectors at Mission Control in Houston 43 years ago.) It was a parallel, but with somewhat less emotion.

When Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Eagle late that night of July 20, and ever so slightly botched the words he had prepared for the occasion — “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” — he truly had the world watching.

The first lunar landing was the culmination of a decade of technological frenzy — a race mandated by a slain hero (and JFK was still idolized at the time) with a goal of decade’s end; a race exacerbated by a surrogate arms race with this country’s most feared rival; a race that brought scads of new inventions, as well as death and near-death and, eventually glory. And the unending fascination of the public.

Yes, nodding to Paul Simon, these truly were the days of miracle and wonder.


Five Songs, Part 93 (Back Home Edition)

August 24, 2012

Well, my move across the country back to Connecticut is over — though the recovery process surely isn’t — but in the interest of life returning to whatever passes for “normal” in my world, I’m back to Five Songs this week.

Despite not being in any shape to go out, I dolled up adequately enough Tuesday night and dragged myself out of the house to see Candye Kane at Cafe Nine in New Haven. (And shame on the so-called music community — only about 40 people at the show. I came home expecting better.)

It’ll be a blog post eventually about body matters — a conversation launched by Candye as her intro to the song I included this week — but the show was a hell of a lot of fun … even more so because one of stalwart sisters of the blues, Debbie Davies (who I believe still lives in Stratford), showed up to join Candye and her own ace guitarist, Laura Chavez, on stage, and be honored with a birthday cake.

Anyway, now that I’m home, I’ll be back to posting (and getting caught up) in between sending out resumes (six this first week back) and allegedly working on my book. So dig in and go enjoy the weekend …

I’m So Tired — The Beatles

200 Lbs. of Fun — Candye Kane

Something’s Gonna Happen — Marshall Crenshaw

It’s Gonna Happen — The Undertones

Back Home Again — John Denver

Love those fortune cookies, Part 21

August 11, 2012

Well, I made one last sojourn for Chinese food last night at the place on which I often relied for dinner during my Fresno Bee copy desk days: Happy Star, on the southwest edge of the Tower. (Sesame chicken and broccoli combo with noodles and an order of pot stickers — not in the same class as House of Chao in Westville in New Haven, but it’ll do.)

And I came away with not one, but two fortune cookies on my final stop. And both were kinda, well, they kinda said something.

The first:

“There is a prospect of a thrilling time ahead of you.”

Well, with my going-away party today and the move starting Monday, there certainly is. Or maybe the thrill happens once I get home; who knows? But there’s a double-entendre here, as Prospect happens to be the name of the town where I grew up … and where I’ll be staying with my parents for the time being.

The other one?

“You will succeed in making a small fortune by investing in a business project.”

Maybe the business project will be my eventual book. Or the lottery tickets I bought last night for a week’s worth of drawings. This could be fun. But at this point, I could use a small fortune, as if most of us can’t …

But anyway, a couple of good fortunes by which to leave Fresno …

Five Songs, Part 92 (the going-home edition)

August 10, 2012

Not dwelling on Five Songs too much this week, as I have a lot more I want to do before I pack up the Penske and take the big move back to Connecticut three days from now. But I did have a few songs kicking in my mind the past three weeks to go with the usual spontaneous clutter, so, in fine Five Songs tradition, this week’s list is more than five — try 15. And with 3,000 miles in front of me, I’m gonna need — and carry in the truck — a lot more than 15.

And chances are you’ll never see this assortment of people even mentioned in the same place again.

So here you go — last musical transmission from Fresno. See ya on the flipside, good buddy!

Homeward Bound — Simon & Garfunkel

Roadrunner — The Modern Lovers

Roadrunner — Sex Pistols

Wind Out — R.E.M.

I’m a Road Runner — Bo Diddley

You Can’t Catch Me — Chuck Berry

Route 66 — The Rolling Stones

Behind the Wheel/Route 66 — Depeche Mode

Back to My Roots — RuPaul

After Midnight — J.J. Cale

Through the Night — Peter Zaremba’s Love Delegation

No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn — Beastie Boys

Six Days on the Road — Dave Dudley

I’m Going Home (at Woodstock) — Ten Years After

I’m Going Home (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) — Tim Curry

The Month of George Bailey

August 10, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t something I usually mention, let alone ponder, in early August. (At least wait ’til the department stores start putting up their Christmas stuff, in late August.)

My view of Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart’s 1946 masterpiece (and you have to give Stewart co-billing here, because, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it wouldn’t have have resonated this long and loudly without him) is colored by how I’m feeling about life that particular holiday season. If I’m happy and perhaps prosperous — and maybe, on those rare occasions, even in love — then I sit there and soak in the glow of a tale of a man who has done great deeds, none of which have seemed to have gone unpunished, pushed to the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, dragged back by a bedraggled guardian angel second-class who died in the 18th century, shown what the world would be like had he never been born, and ultimately rewarded in a most wonderful way.

But as often as not — and especially last Christmas, living in a miserable, passive-aggressively hostile rental situation, the hours of my on-call copy-editing about to be slashed to nothing just 3 1/2 months after I returned to the work world after 2 1/2 years out of work — I felt more like this:

Years like last, I avoid the film, grumbling about how much of a crock of shit it is — how George Bailey is only a fictitious character, and that this shit doesn’t happen in real life.

(In fact, last year, I watched not one Christmas special, and Jeff Day and I didn’t even do our annual radio run-through of Rudolph on WPKN. And my back was turned to the TVs in the newsroom as I worked the copy desk Christmas Eve night, as one showed It’s a Wonderful Life and the other showed A Christmas Story. And on Christmas Day proper, I sat in my miserable room at the Happy House watching a documentary on a renowned and brilliant atheist — American: The Bill Hicks Story.)

It’s been a month now since I discovered that my work hours at The Fresno Bee were going bye-bye — and unlike the previous two occurrences this year (after Christmas and Easter), when I regained some hours eventually, this felt permanent. (And that was hammered home two evenings ago, Aug. 7, when I learned two more of my ex-colleagues, one on the copy desk, were laid off.).

When Kris, my boss, told me the news, I just knew it was time. A brief moment of “Not yet — I can’t afford this!” followed by a huge sense of calm. I had reached the end. It was time to go home. This time, the voice of reason wasn’t the loud whisper that told me, “Okay — it’s Fresno” the day the Bee’s then-features editor emailed me in October 2003, asking if I’d be interested in the assistant features editor position. Or the out-of-body experience I felt at the moment of my gender epiphany inĀ  January 2008, the voice asking me quite clearly from someplace to my left, “Can you do this?” This was a slight sag of the shoulders, the slow letting-out of air, and me saying, out loud to Kris, “It’s time.”

But how was I gonna do this?

I wasn’t ready for what followed. It’s been one part It’s a Wonderful Life, one part learning experience. Kind of having to learn to redefine the concepts of success and failure.


Five Songs, Parts 90-91

August 3, 2012

In a frenzy unrivaled until Ethel Merman’s disco single, even Lurch had his own ’60s dance.

Hi. This will be an extended Five Songs to make up for missing last week, between packing for my impending move and having to run out and buy a new laptop last Friday.

And guess what? I learned something new/old. Insatiable TV junkie as I was as a kid, I always loved “Makin’ With the Magilla,” from a 1965 Magilla Gorilla short at the height of the surf craze. Never gave any thought as to the artist(s) who recorded it. Now I know. And now you’ll know — and as a bonus, I included both the cartoon version and a better-sound-quality version.

Not sure whether this is the building anxiety about the move in a week and a half or just the caffeine. But if you’re not digging these, have someone check your pulse.

BTW: If you feel like sending a loan or a donation (specify which) to defray the big move, I won’t stop you. There’s a PayPal donate button below:

Makin’ With the MagillaLittle Eva (From Magilla Gorilla)

The Lurch — Ted Cassidy

A Love So Deep Inside — The Velvelettes

She Is So — A Craze

David Watts — The Kinks

Pizza Pie — Norman Fox & the Rob Roys

Crash — The Primitives

What Do I Get? — The Buzzcocks

At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama) — The El Dorados

The Animal Speaks — The Golden Palominos w/John Lydon