Monthly Archives: July 2012

Fav 10 songs of 2012 (for now)

Alabama Shakes, I Found You – Terrific southern-rock soul sound. The album’s not too bad, either.

Azealia Banks, 1991 – While listening to this track, the first two words I thought of were “Missy Elliott.” Those are two damn fine words.

Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ruby Are You Mad At Your Man? – A bluegrass foot-stomper.

Die Anterwood, I Fink You Freaky – The only thing weirder than this song is the cover to the album Ten$ion.

Flaming Lips feat. Ke$ha and Biz Markee, 2012 [You Must Be Upgraded] – A raucous party track.

Heartless Bastards, Got to Have Rock and Roll – The title is self-explanatory.

Japandroids, Night of Wine and Roses – Don’t care much for wine or roses. Love the song.

Santigold, Big Mouth – “Big mouth / Big mouth / Quite now / You said enough.” The soundtrack to the 2012 presidential election.

Sleigh Bells, Road to Hell – If the road to hell is paved with great, distorted pop-punk-new wave like this, then hell’s the place to be.

Tanlines, All of Me – I’m not much into electronic dance music, but Tanlines has caught my ears.

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Wrong side of history

Dear The Star Press,

On Father’s Day, when you decided to publish a screed by a known hate group bashing gay parents, you chose to stand on the side of the zeros.




Meanwhile I, and an increasing majority of Americans, choose to stand on the side of heroes.


Think about about. Losers.

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Favorite 5 albums of 2012 (for now)

Little late on this, but it’s been a busy writing month. So here I go …

Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – I could see this being my favorite album of the year by the time 2013 rolls around. I could also see me running from Idler in fear by the end of the year. There’s rarely middle ground with Ms. Apple, and this album is no exception. There are times she loses me lyrically, but the piano on this disc is just mesmerizing.

Carolina Chocolate Drops, Leaving Eden – There just aren’t enough bluegrass bands with full-time beat boxers. 2009’s Genuine Negro Jig is one of my favorite discs of the past five years, and their take on Blu Cantrell’s Hit ‘Em Up Style is hands down my fav cover over that same time period. I have a feeling Leaving Eden could earn the kind of love with a little more time.

The Flaming Lips, The Flaming Lips and Heady Friends – Me loving this disc isn’t surprising. I tend to love everything Wayne Coyne and Co. put out. Their previous disc, Embryonic, and their take on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (with help from Peaches, Henry Rollins, etc.) were a taste of what was to come. Heady Friends sees appearances by Yoko One on the unnerving Do It!, the long-overdue Jim James’ collaboration That Ain’t My Trip and the disc’s opener and shining star, 2012 [You Must Be Upgraded] with Biz Markee and Ke$ha.

Japandroids, Celebration Rock – I love fuzzy, distorted guitar rock. Celebration Rock at times reminds me of Social Distortion, at times the best of early … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. I’d much rather end an album thinking I want more – like with Celebration Rock – than feel like four or five songs could have been cut from the bloat.

Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE – I don’t often respond positively to R&B albums. The last album I cared for by a male R&B artist was Maxwell’s BLACKsummer’snight in 2009, and before that, it would have been D’Angelo’s Voodoo from 2000. I’m not sure I’ll love this album in a week or a month. But there’s something … seductive and gripping about what Ocean is doing here. What hurts it is that it could probably be 3-4 songs shorter.

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More white people doing stupid, racist crap

So local Republicans showed they had a modicum of shame deep down in their hearts by removing the President Obama punching bag from their tent at the Delaware County fair. This gracious act clearly represents what President George W. “Nukular” Bush meant by compassionate conservatism. Way to go, Hoosier honkies.

Think about it this way, though: 50, 60 years ago these same Republicans would have put on their white sheets and gone out and hung a black man. Here, they just had a harmless representation of a black man that folks could whack with one hand while using their other hand to clutch a fried Twinkie.

The Indiana GOP has clearly come a long way in the past half-century. Pat yourselves on the back. Just make sure you’ve finished the Twinkie first.

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Figuring it out

I haven’t written about writing or my novel-in-progress for a while, for good reason. I was starting to think things were a bit too … straightforward. This meant stopping to re-examine what I’m doing.

To refresh, my main male character is not exactly who he seems, and my main female character sort of stumbles on to this fact. In addition, there is a shadowy figure – whose identity is not revealed until late in the game – that is on the tail of the main male character. I’d been working with two suspects, the sheriff and a local pastor. But I decided that isn’t quite enough. I needed a third.

But who? This is supposed to be a small town. I have a main street with a few businesses, a grain processing plant, the grade, middle and high school, a couple of churches, a golf course, a mechanic … and that’s about it. Pretty limiting. Plus, this is a student who is somewhat new to the area, so that’s going to limit the places she goes, the people she bumps into on a regular basis even more. Not only that, she has plenty of relatives in town. I didn’t think a relation would work as a straw man/potential threat in this instance, so that limited the pool of potential new suspects even more.

I ended up going with a guidance counselor. My female lead, being new to the area and probably considered at-risk (father died at an early age, living with her grandparents a state away from her mother, etc.), would likely be a regular in the guidance office early in the school year, out of legitimate concern she’d adjust and thrive. Plus, a guidance counselor is going to be privy to private, personal information and be able to ask questions that most people couldn’t ask a teenage girl, without seeming like creepy stalker pervs.

I’m also making Marcia Miller (it’s a good, eastern Indiana name) a woman. The sheriff and pastor are both men, so their interaction will be different with my female lead than will Marcia’s. Again, because she’s a woman, it’s should be easier for the female lead to divulge certain personal information, the kind of things someone collecting information can use to her advantage. It’s a bond my FL is going to lack elsewhere in her new hometown and school. With her mom at a distance, both physically and emotionally, this gives the counselor an in, as well.

I’m going to make Ms. Miller consistently behind the game. As is obvious on this blog, my political leaning is to the left. However, sometimes I have just a little patience with the people I share common ground with as those that I don’t. Ms. Miller will by a symbol of those people, who often don’t seem to see the right’s attacks coming, a step slow despite possessing great intelligence. She’ll react, not act. My hope is that this won’t be taken as an attack on her gender, especially because the pastor is a bit of a nervous nelly and the sheriff is on the wrong track for a considerable portion of the novel. Nobody gets to be a super-genius evil villain. They all have blind spots.

On a more personal note, my high school counselor was a bit like this, slow to react. There were certain things she did well, but often seemed surprised at the behavior and reactions of teenagers and unsure of how to proceed once encountering said behavior. Maybe it’s just me, but those seem like the kind of things one should be prepared for as a high school counselor. But I guess it’s working out in the end. She gave me a model to work with. This ever sells, I may owe her a beer.

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Songs classic rock should be playing, No. 1

If you’re classic rock radio station isn’t playing Kurt Cobain and Co., it isn’t classic. It’s just old.

1. Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit. Why should I even have to write this? This should be on heavy rotation at every classic rock station in America, sandwiched between Stairway to Heaven, Iron Man, Crazy Train, Shook Me All Night Long, etc. Was it an enormous hit? Check. A great song that has stood the test of time? Check. Importance? Well, it knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the pop chart and was the final nail in hair metal’s coffin. Check. Classic rock radio: Play the damn song. It’s that simple.

Listen up:

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Songs classic rock radio should be playing, No. 2

Let’s hear it for Run DMC on the classic rock airwaves.

2. Run DMC, Walk This Way. Rock radio needs to figure out how to embrace some hip-hop. I’m not saying classic rock radio should be playing P.M. Dawn’s Set Adrift On Memory Bliss , Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back or Naughty By Nature’s O.P.P. Because they don’t rock. But Walk This Way does. Run DMC’s cover even has an edge, some swagger that Aerosmith’s original lacks. Walk This Way should be the first, but not the only. Try the Public Enemy-Anthrax collaboration Bring the Noise. Onyx’s Slam. And I haven’t even mentioned the words “Kid Rock” yet. Granted, this could lead down the dark path to Limp Bizkit and its unfortunate rock-rap progeny. But it needs to be explored.

Walk your cursor over this way:

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Songs classic rock radio should be playing, No. 3

If you played less Foreigner and Bad Company, you’d have room for good stuff like these New Yorkers.

3. The Ramones, I Wanna Be Sedated. A greater argument could be made for The Clash because they’re more political, but Should I Stay Or Should I Go does get some burn on the classic rock airwaves. Then there are the Sex Pistols. The importance of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols can’t be overstated. But I can’t stand Johnny Lydon. I’ve always loved The Ramones the most, so I went in that direction. Again, this comes down to history. Punk is an extension of rock, and there needs to be a place for that on radio among the Lynyrd Skynyrd’s and AC/DC’s of the world.

Here it is:

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Songs classic rock radio should be playing, No. 4

4. Robert Johnson, Cross Road Blues. This could have been B.B. King’s Three O’Clock Blues. Or Buddy Guy’s Baby Please Don’t Leave Me. And so on. If classic rock radio really is the history of rock and roll, then blues should be a bigger part of the mix, and definitely more than just the occasional Stevie Ray Vaughn track. Musicians from bands like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin embrace their blues influence. Why can’t classic rock radio?

Check Cross Road Blues out here:

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Songs classic rock radio should be playing, No. 5

Classic rock radio, it’s time to weed out the losers and plant a Soundgarden.

5. Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun. I could have picked Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, etc. The Seattle sound ruled rock in the early 1990s, which is now 20 years past and clearly worthy of “classic” designation. I chose this particular track because Soundgarden’s Superunknown was probably the biggest of the Seattle albums to cross over (with some apologies to Pearl Jam’s Vs.), and Black Hole Sun was a huge, all-over-radio-and-in-regular-rotation-on-MTV single that defined it. But lazy-ass classic rock radio has chosen to play only Neil Young-approved Pearl Jam and leave it at that. Unacceptable. Dump everything from overrated pop acts like REO Speedwagon, Kansas and .38 Special, and you’ d have plenty of room for rock that ruled both radio and video and actually mattered culturally.

Check it out:

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