Saturday, October 28, 2006

Burn THIS Pal! Director's Commentary Disc 1

Okay, so a little while ago Gordon announces he's doing a disc exchange with a law and order theme. I debated participating, because I thought I'd have a hard time dredging up enough stuff to fit the theme from my music collection.

Then it hit me: "You idiot! Most of what you listen to is Americana-ish stuff and most of it is about people making choices that get them in trouble." In about five minutes, I had a list of songs for the collection, without having to think very hard about it at all.

I still had a couple of concerns, but they turned out to be easy to deal with, for the most part. I wanted to make sure that I had a good showing of work by female artists, since I have so many of them in my collection. I also had to make sure that I got a local act or two in, since this is important to me.

My biggest concern had to do with audience perception. I was a little concerned that some of the recipients would find a mono-genre collection to be boring, even though the boundaries for Americana music are pretty broad and fairly flexible. I was also worried that Roger, Lefty, and Gordon, recent recipients of several "all Americana, all the time" discs from me, would be rolling their eyes and groaning "Not again! Someone please take his CD burner away!"

It's a valid concern. I love making mixes, but boring your audience is never good. Still, the seed had been planted, and I had to follow my muse. I promise some more musical variety next time around, guys!

One of the things that I love most about Americana music is the stories, especially the ones that don't end happily. Maybe I'm just a morbid old crank, but there's something about listening to the sad fate of someone who made some bad choices that really gets to me. Of course, some folks don't have to make a bad choice for things to go to hell. Life just turns out that way. Either way it can make for some good music. Hence, my title:

Hard Times, Rough Living, Bad Choices, Good Music

Long Black Veil (The Cheiftains with Mick Jagger): I just love this slow, mournful tune. The pipes that moan through the opening of this version gives me the chills, and Jagger's voice matches them, wail for wail. I thought it was a great opening. A man is hung for a murder he didn't commit because his alibi is the woman he's having an affair with--his best friend's wife.

Devil’s Right Hand (Steve Earle): Given Earle's many songs about outlaws and rebels, not too mention his personal clashes with the law, he was a given for this set. The problem was picking a tune. I finally went with this one because I thought the rockier beat was a good follow-up to the opening ballad. How was I to know that Tosy was going to decide he doesn't like Steve Earle?

Postcards From Mexico (Kevin Welch and Kieran Kane): I just love Welch and Kane! This is off of their newest release. I love the call and response format of the song. I wanted to use this one so bad, but I don't have the CD yet, so I actually joined iTunes to get it.

Camelot Motel (Mary Gauthier): Some of Gauthier's best writing is found in this song about the motely collection of losers, hustlers, lovers, and thieves who take rooms at the titular no-tell motel.

Pancho & Lefty (Emmylou Harris): This was a no-brainer. Emmylou's classic version of Townes van Zandt's classic outlaw song. In my mind it's one of the greatest songs ever written. I love the way he laid out the story of these two men without explicitly filling in all the details. We see the men through the blur of the legends that grew up around them. Emmylou sings this tragic tale beautifully.

1952 Vincent Black Lightning (Del McCoury Band): Okay, I apologize to Lefty, Roger, and Gordon, who now have this song on three consecutive discs from me, but it's a classic doomed outlaw love tale. I couldn't not use it! I promise it won't show up again for the rest of the year, even if the band did...well, you know. (I promise I'll stop talking about that one day too. It just won't be soon.)

Robert Ford and Jesse James (David Olney): Jesse James showed up a lot in the mixes this time. I like this take on the story, which tries to explain why Ford might have wanted to shoot his cousin in the back.

Milly’s CafĂ© (Fred Eaglesmith): Eaglesmith has become the new songwriter of choice in our home. His stuff seems to continually inhabit our music-playing devices. You can't do a disc like this without one story of a good girl who gets pulled into a life of crime by the bad boy. It never ends well.

Infamous Angel (Iris Dement): I imagine this one made Tosy cringe, but I love it. Another thing I love about Americana is the large number of songwriters with what I refer to as"voices with character." They're not as polished as others might be. Some of them are even a bit quirky in their tone or phrasing, but they inhabit and embody their songs perfectly. Iris Dement is a perfect example. I am madly in love with everything about her music, especially that wonderful lilt and twang that she has in her voice. It's lovely and perfect, especially for a song like this. We don't know exactly what Angel has done to become so infamous, but the song hints that she's been involved in quite a lot.

Sam Stone (John Prine): A classic, pure and simple. One of the first songs I thought of for this disc. Nobody can write a song like this like Prine can.

Best of All Possible Worlds (Kris Kristofferson): Except maybe for Kristofferson. I wanted this one because it's so tongue in cheek.

My Wife Thinks You’re Dead (Junior Brown): I originally had three or four songs like this one in the mix. Stuff that was a little lighter, and more humorous in nature. Sadly, I ended up not having room for them. I miss the texture they would have brought to the mix, but they'll be turning up on a future project.

Tecumseh Valley (Nanci Girffith): Another Townes van Zandt song. This time, it's the sad story of a young woman and the lengths she goes to support herself and her family. Arlo Guthrie sings along with Griffith.

Caleb Myer (Gillian Welch): A modern take on the classic murder ballad, which means that, for once, it's not the female character getting killed! I love Welch's haunted take on traditional music. (Note to Roger: Please do the murder ballad disc!)

Terrible Horrible Thing (Dan Gediman with Heidi Howe): Another modern murder ballad. This time, the man and the woman both get killed. Gediman and Howe are both Louisville-based artists. Gediman is the man behind the revival of "This I Believe."

Jesse with the Long Hair Hanging Down (Robert Earl Keen): I dismissed the more likely REK choice as being far too obvious. This lesser known tune is one of Keith's favorites. I like the fact that it actually has a happy ending!

You Think You Know Someone (Todd Snider): Haunting story about child abuse.

Murder at the Read House (Otis Gibbs): This was a late addition to the mix, as I really just discovered Gibbs on the Music Choice Americana channel right before I had to put it all together. Nevertheless, I love this song, because it's so overwhelmingly creepy.

The Sweetest Gift (Linda Ronstadt with Emmylou Harris): I had to include this one, for sentimental reasons. This is the song that introduced me to the wonder of Emmylou Harris. My mother was a big Linda Ronstadt fan, and I spent a lot of time listening to her albums as a kid. The first time I played this cut off of Prisoner in Disguise, I had to know who the harmony singer was. I found a copy of Blue Kentucky Girl at the library, and that was all she wrote. I wanted to wrap up the CD on some lighter, more hopeful notes, and this song fit that desire perfectly.

25 Minutes to Go (Johnny Cash): Only Johnny Cash can stand live before a bunch of hardened felons in prison and sing a song that makes light of waiting on death row and get away with it. I knew this would be the perfect closer for the CD, because it's not so heavy. I just wish I had edited out some of the applause and stage chatter at the end. It would have made for a tighter ending to the disc. I was in such a hurry to get the discs out before we left that I didn't think of it.

That's disc one. In a moment, we'll have disc 2.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Very Quick Updates on the Personal Front

Finally feeling better, except for a residual cough. Now, if we could just get Keith's ears unclogged.

Conference went extremely well. Almost 500 attendees. My major work stress for the year is OVER!

My brother is in town for the annual Mitchell Brothers Reunion Road Trip. We're going to the flea market today.

Kosh has become a very needy lap kitty since we've been back from Mexico. For my lap in particular.

This blog passed its third blogiversary earlier this month, unnoticed by everyone including me.

Next week, I'll be passing my 42nd birthday in much the same way.

That's not true. I'll be sitting by the mailbox waiting for the flood of cards and gifts from my many admirers. What are you waiting for? You still have a week to get something in the mail.

Bennie ripped the space bar off my laptop the other day. We got it back on, but if you don't hit it just right, it doesn't always space right. Any odd spacing errors in this post are her fault.

I got tangled in my power cord the other day rushing to get Chiquito off Bennie and the laptop dropped. Now the audio is garbled about half the time.

People who have cats shouldn't own laptops.

Yes, I just did a post largely about my cats.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Not much time to write today. Snot continues to cram the crevices of my head and chest (ewwwww!), but I am breathing a little easier and am able to sleep without Nyquil, which means that I am sleeping better.

The dreaded conference is tomorrow, and I'm heading to the hotel in a bit to set stuff up. I still have to hit the office and copy one more thing, while I'm at it. I've done this thing for six years now, and I have never had the problems getting it together like I have this year. I've spent most days since I got back from vacation fighting with either our purchasing folks or the hotel accounting folks over getting the damn thing paid for! Never had to do that before.

Anyway, nothing new except for some blogroll updates today. I added Tosy and Cosh and GayProf because I enjoy reading them and I need to stop hopping over to them using Roger's links. It's taken me a while to get my own set up, but I'm lazy like that.

Tom the Dog and Crocodile Caucus should have been on my blogroll a long time ago as well. I think I may have even done it in the past and forgot to re-add them when I lost my links after updating my template. Oh well. They're both worth a read, if you're not already doing so. Lyle at CrocCauc is a really nice guy. A couple of years ago, he and I had a great time prowling the indy comics pavilion and small press alley together at the San Diego con.

And to make up for being so rushed, one of my favorite YouTube Adam West Batman videos:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Theory: I Died Three Days Ago and This is a Zombie Post

Okay, so I’m not an iron blogger like Mike. I’m a wimp. I get sick and I crawl off to bed, instead of writing long posts about comic books. Sorry about that.

Part of the problem is that the impending conference has made it impossible for me to take a sick day. This has turned my post-work routine into the following:

Leave work.
Stagger home.
Stumble in the door.
Sniff and hack a little.
Have a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.
Sniff and hack a little more.
Have another bowl of the good Cap’n.
Polish it off with a bunch of OJ.
Sniff and hack some more.
Watch last night’s One Life to Live on the DVR.
Sniff and hack at Keith a bit.
Take a bunch of Nyquil.
Crawl in bed.
Get under quilt.
Wait for Kosh to settle in beside me.
Pass out until morning.

Everything has settled into my chest, which takes forever to clear out with me, but I’m starting to feel somewhat better, exxcept for not sleeping well without medication yet. I haven’t really had time to work on my Mexico posts, and that’s probably going to have to wait until after the conference on Monday. I might post more over the weekend, but don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime, check out Mike’s latest round of links (and if you missed the Nancy link post from a couple of days ago, your life is woefully incomplete).

When you get done there, visit GayProf’s hagiography of gay saints, if you need some spiritual edification. If your needs are more carnal in nature, then swing by Dorian’s Beefcake Week posts. (Mmmmm....beefcake!) Personally, when it comes to comic beefcake, I’m pretty taken by Jaeger.

(That's not the sexiest Jaeger shot, but I haven't had much luck finding any good ones online. I'll try to scan some this weekend. Image courtesy of The Gay Comics List. Art is by and Finder is copyright Carla Speed McNeil.)

Over at Journalista, Dirk Deppey has compiled all his manga scanlation recommendations for indy comic readers into one document, with images.

And with that, it’s time for the evening routine. See you all later.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

No Posts When I'm Dying!

I think I've now proven that one can pick up illnesses from reading a sick person's blog. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

Actually, Keith started coming down with a cold right before we left Mexico, and he's been kind enough to share it with me. I spent most of the day in bed and am heading back there as soon as this gets posted.

More later!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

But What About Mexico?

Our trip to Mexico City was fabulous! One of the best vacations we’ve ever taken, in fact. The city is wonderful. The people are wonderful. And there is way more to see and do than we could possibly cover in eleven days, believe it or not. We’re already talking about a return visit.

The trip has left me with a lot that I want to write about, so be prepared for several posts in the near future. I’m going to be grouping things into somewhat loose topics, rather than providing a really boring day by day travelogue. This is my first deliberate attempt to create a bunch of posts that I would consider to be Rogerian in nature. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a lot to get out of my system, and what’s the point of having a blog, if not to get things out of one’s system?

I’m going to try to sandwich some Burn THIS Pal director’s commentary for my discs in between Mexico posts, plus review some of the other contributions as well. After I’ve run the trip into the ground, I’ve got a bunch of stuff I started ages ago that I want to finish up and post, including a review of Dolly Parton’s first album, a through the years look at a few Emmylou Harris albums, a post about my father and comic books, some additions to my sidebar, plus a really long post (or series of posts) about Days of Our Lives that I have been wrestling with for a while now, but haven’t been able to get it to turn out the way I’d like.

If it all comes out the way I plan for it to, then I should have enough content to last through my birthday in November. Of course, this is me we’re talking about, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I mean, the big annual work conference is the 23rd and my brother is coming to visit on the 26th, so I will have some distractions in there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Know This Is Going to Scar Everyone for Life

Lefty, I'll see your picture of you with a bra on your head....

....and raise you a picture of me with a pair of underwear in my head!

(If this becomes a meme, I'm going to be truly frightened!)

Eddie-ted: I added the links I forgot to put in last night.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I'm Coming Home!

Greetingsfrom our last day in Mexico City! The in-trip blogging didn't happen like I had hoped because I was either way too busy or way too tired to think about it. Rest assured, though, that there will be at least a week of boring travel recaps to thrill and excite you.

Keith and I fly out in a few hours and should be home by ten tonight. I'm really missing the cats at this point. We've not been away this long since we got Kosh a few years ago, and I'm not sure Chiquito will even remember us.

I did manage to keep up with the blogosphere in a limited fashion over the past eleven days, so here are a few noteworthy highlights to tide everyone over until I get home:

It's mini-comic week at Comics Worth Reading!

At Postmodern Barney, Dorian went to see the Scissor Sisters and has some nice pics of the show. He's also had a lot of well-put thoughts about the current state of queers in Marvel Comics. I have to admit that I find what I'm reading about the whole situation to be disturbing and annoying, but I'm really loathe to comment on it, simply because I'm not reading any Marvel books at the moment (and don't plan to be in the future). For me to complain too much seems like hypocrisy. I am glad, however, that there are folks like Dorian raising the alert on stuff like this. Oh, andit must be October, because Dor brought out his Halloween template. I'm hoping we'll get more monster posts and horror movie reviews soon!

Lefty predicted the future, then got really strange. I think the emissions from his crystal ball are starting to get to him.

Roger had a great post yesterday comparing the original album release of Pete Seeger's We Shall Overcome to the CD re-issue. I've got to get my hands on the CD now!

Gordon went psycho, um, psychic too. And he's right about the peace sign thing too! He also belatedly discovered Wolff and Byrd.

Delenda Est Carthago is a big two years old now! Congrats, Greg! You can review some of Greg's greatest hits in his anniversary post, or see his top ten favorite English monarchs (I just love typing that!), or watch him tussle with Tom Beland.

I'm not that big a fan of True Story Swear to God either, Greg, for many of the reasons you state. I'm actually a fan of autobio comocs when they have something to say or else present themsleve with some sort of style or point of view. Beland skims the surface of things too often for my tasteand avoids dealing with anything remotely messy, which means that he really doesn't deal with anything interesting either. His piss-poor response to your review put me off the bookeven more than I already was.

Scroll through the last few days of Journalista posts for some scanlation recommendations of manga for folks who tend to like indy and alternative comics. Great stuff!

Finally, watch a stuffed bull go above and beyond the call of duty. Scroll through Bully's hour by hour reviews commemorating 24-hour comics day!

That's all folks. See you back in the USA!