Sunday, May 26, 2013

After Hours

This is from the film The Benny Goodman Story.  They get essentially everybody important from the 1938 band that played the Carnegie Hall concert, Gene Krupa, Harry James, Ziggy Elfman and even Hymie Scherzer!  But there's no Benny.  He was played (very blandly) by Steve Allen.  This scene is at the end of the film where there's some kind of resolution with Donna Reed.  She arrives and then the concert is a success.  Seriously, this film is pretty not good.  At one point, they wheel out somebody who's supposed to be Fletcher Henderson, but is indeed not.  He's just some bad actor.  But the music is pretty excellent throughout.  Benny was not a laudable human being but he was a superior musician.  Except for a few random tunes from the era, this was my introduction to swing music.  It's funny, everything else doesn't really measure up in terms of sheer power.  Sure, as far as big bands go, Duke Ellington had wonderful artistry, Glenn Miller had pop appeal and Count Basie had everything in between, but this tune frightened people for years.  The first time I heard it, it sounded truly evil.  I have played this tune countless times more or less accurately in numerous big bands and it has always been the highlight of the evening.

This version is a recreation of the actual performance.  You can find the real recording on YouTube.  It's over 13 minutes long.  There's a really nice piano solo near the end.  Apparently, the pianist got lost and just decided to play something pretty since it was just him and Gene Krupa.  The result is pretty stunning.  And then you get the great end chorus which qualifies as one of the best moments in music.  OK, so I make pop music now, but trying to recreate something akin to this is my goal.  Someday, it might happen.         

Speaking of Hair...

There's a new barbershop opening soon on 6th in that very large new complex, you know, where the magnificent UA Cinemas used to be.  Well, each day I mourn the loss of that theater, but there's no bringing it back.  Anyhow, it seemed like just an ordinary hair-cutting place until I saw this:
So yeah, you can drink booze while you get your hair cut.  What will they think of next?  Although I recently had all of my flowing locks chopped off, I'm in a regrowing mood.  I don't think I'll be using these guys' services for at least another year and a half.  But if I do, it'll be nice to get tipsy while they shear me. 

P.S. The Grammar Nazi strikes!  It should be Bishop's, not Bishops, should it not?  Unless, of course, they hire only bishops to cut hair.  That would be cool.  Is Raymond Hunthausen still alive?  I'd let him cut my hair.  He was a pretty cool guy.  Anyhow, Bishop's not Bishops.  Amen. 

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's the same guy from last week.  I've been trying to find non-cagey tree rodents but to no avail.  It seems like every squirrel looks at me and takes off.  They must have liked me better with long hair.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Here's the Album Cover

It's called Unpopular Songs for Unpopular People.  As I've mentioned before, it is good. 

Hey, I Made an Album!

Here's the first video so far.  It's the purported last words of famous and infamous people.  Some people are OK with facing their mortality, others are not and most don't even see it coming.  That's me doing the talking.  I still have my doubts about the Alfred Hitchcock quote.  But I've verified it from several sources.  Thank you, Internet.

Anyhow, the album is officially out till next Tuesday the 28th.  I've got people this time around.  These people will pester radio stations to play various tracks from the album.  I personally sent out 240 CDs out last week.  It was a monumental effort and I enjoyed it quite a bit, although not as much as the actual recording process.  I had to lug all the CDs to the main post office on Union and then put stamps on nearly every single one.  It took something like two hours, but it happened.  This mailing included no less than four discs to KEXP.  In my mind, this is a waste of good CDs.  They never played anything off the first two albums.  There's no reason to believe that this one will be any different.  I undertook publicity for last year's disc (Instant Classics) on my own.  I really, really wanted my stuff to be on the radio - I felt that many tracks were (and still are) quite airworthy - and KEXP was my best chance at that.  Long, agonizing story short, I phoned many, many times and nothing ever got played.  It was a terribly frustrating experience.  Yeah, I know they get a lot of stuff every day and they get a lot of calls about all that stuff, but I couldn't help thinking that this was some sort of game for them.  Each time, I'd get the same spiel from them - they listen to and evaluate everything, thanksforcalling.  Meanwhile, they were playing new music that truly, truly sucked.  OK, I understand why people become DJs.  They want to play their favorite music.  That's fine.  In fact, that's great.  But since they can't play all their favorites all the time, they have to play something else to fill the gaps.  They usually end up playing wretched shit that gets promoted their way.  I don't know whether somebody is blackmailing them or what, but I have no idea why such terrible music gets airplay while I'm just some guy dialing a phone.  Indifference from these guys won't make me stop writing or recording music.  But it seems that if the music really mattered to them, they would give my stuff a spin.  I guess not being in the kool kids klub is something of a drawback, but for Christ's sake, I live 10 minutes' walk from the studio.  It seems ridiculous that they'd put some lame group from Iceland in heavy rotation and give some ultra-local guy the perpetual brush-off.

Look, this really does bother me and I could go on about this, but it would only make me seem like one of those crazy guys who range around this neighborhood screaming at buildings.  This time I'm hoping things will be different.  I have people.  We'll see how well they do.  I'm paying them a fair amount of money to promote this album, which is quite super-fine.  In fact, you can preview every single track right here.  Have a listen.  You don't have to buy squat.  But if you're in the appropriate mood, give KEXP a call and request whichever song you like best.  They'll never play it.  They won't even know what you're talking about.  That's OK.  At this point, I'd rather confuse them.  I've always said - and my friend Jim will verify this - that if some kind of popularity ever comes my way, it won't originate from Seattle.  I'm really glad I've got people in Los Angeles.            

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Your Sunday Squirrel

I finally found a squirrel who wanted his picture taken!  Hallelujah!  He was in Denny Park this morning.  Although small, he was pretty sociable.  Here he is, rubbing his paws together while he envisions his evil plan.  Knowing squirrels, it would probably involve peanuts or trees or both. 

Here he is again, only it looks like the twig is stuck in his head:
I promise that it wasn't.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Your Sunday Squirrel

Have I already posted this fellow?  Gosh, I hope not.  I have had pretty bad luck at Denny Park of late, but I'm really going to try for good shots this week.  Promise.  In the meantime, enjoy this guy.  He was pretty friendly. 

Here's a Neat-ish Thing

You know, I often forget that this is a blog about Belltown.  I really do.  But here's a thing you can see with your very own eyes.  Simply go to Blanchard, then go to the alley between 2nd & 3rd, then look south towards downtown.  And there it will be.  I'm all for stuff like this. 

Belltown Hosts Yet Another Running Thing

It was called the Color Run.  By my guess, there were several thousand participants.  Everybody was manically perky.  Hey, since when was running in tutus a thing?  There were a lot of people (mostly women) wearing them today.  Anyhow, here are some photos:
My advice is to never call anything the happiest something or other.  In this day and age, it just sounds sinister.  
They tossed colorful stuff on people between Lenora and Virginia.  I'm sure all that "non-toxic" pigment is great for the lungs.  
It's people going in both directions all the way to/from Seattle Center.  Like I said, there were thousands of people.  And many of them were totally amped.  And, like many running events, there were lot and lots of folks who looked like they had no business putting on running shoes.  But who am I to judge?  I went to the gym and ran my 5k on a machine.  A machine!

In conclusion, beware of people in large groups.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Your Sunday Squirrel

OK, these are squirrels - plural.  My mom isn't as fond of squirrels as I am, because they raid her bird feeders.  Fair enough, but squirrels are foragers and acrobats, so they're totally adept at this kind of thievery.  She always sends the dogs out after them.  Of course, the dogs make a lot of noise but the squirrels always get back to their trees.  They're extremely fast.  Unlike Denny Park squirrels, these guys are completely unsociable.  You can watch (and photograph) them from the house (as I did), but take one step outside and they're totally gone.  I guess this is because Snohomish is much wilder than Seattle.  Squirrels are twitchier and more paranoid.  So far, it's worked for these guys.  It's difficult to tell them apart, but I think they're been there for years.  Well, good for them.      

Gooses Galore!

As you can see, this is Lake Union.  I go there every Saturday morning to watch the sea planes come in.  Yesterday was quite breezy, so they had to loop around and approach from the south.  All very thrilling.  As always, geese were present.  There were many, many goslings.  Here are some of them.  

On a related topic, last week, I was out taking care of my parents' place in Snohomish.  It's a rather large expanse of land and house.  There were dogs to placate and a cat to medicate and so forth.  They have a pond on their property.  It's quite small and swampy, but it does actually draw wildlife.  There are always a regiment of frogs around.  Believe it or not, they actually do say "ribbit."  I swear to God.  Anyhow, there was also a family of ducks who called the pond home, small as it was.  I noticed them last Monday morning.  There was a mom, (and I assume) a dad Mallard and six ducklings, who were quite small, but adept in the ways of water as ducks are.  Because we're used to favorable outcomes, we just assume that once something or someone is born, they are destined to become an adult.  This isn't always the case.  After discovering the duck family, I promptly left them alone to do duck things, which was mostly paddling around and nibbling on things.  I checked on them again in the afternoon.  There were only four ducklings.  I figured that I miscounted, but when I tried to do a recount, I nearly tripped over one on the lawn.  He was dead.  He had perfect little webbed feet, soft downy feathers, a gleam in his dark eyes and a broken neck.  I buried him on the bank of the pond.  It was a very sad task for me.  Though Mallards are very common in the world, no one wants to see something so young perish like that.  I have no idea what caused it.  There are hawks in the area, but they take what they kill.  There are raccoons and weasels and sundry other creatures, but they do the same.  It certainly wasn't the dogs or the cat; they were nowhere near the pond.  I wish I knew what happened.  

The next day, there were only three.  I became quite angry with nature in general.  Why play such a cruel joke on these ducks?  Why bring these ducklings into the world only to kill them off during their first week of life?  Well, their numbers held at three for the next two days.  My parents returned on Wednesday night.  I talked to my mom yesterday and she said that they were gone.  I tell myself that they made a journey to a larger pond that's on the neighbor's property.  I refuse to believe that all the ducklings were killed by predators and that the duck-parents blew town.  I think the surviving ducklings are fine.  I really want to believe that.  

You know, Snohomish is rural, but it's civilization.  You don't expect to witness the struggle for survival in your own backyard.  Well, that's exactly what took place.  And even though humans are predators and predators kill without remorse, this whole thing makes me feel pretty awful.  I mean, who the hell wants to kill ducklings?  It turns out that everything does.  We see cute little baby animals and every other creature sees an easy meal.  I suppose our attitude would be completely different if the choices were killing or starvation.  But it's not that way.  Nature is harsh.  And unfair.  And things are tough for ducklings.