Saturday, January 29, 2011

It didn't take long for me to get over the winter blahs, did it?!?!? Well, I'm not exactly 100% over 'em, but perhaps I've finally learned after all of these years to take one day at a time and enjoy/accept the weather situations as they hit me square in the face rather'n mope on like I would when it would be two weeks into school and already I was staring out the classroom window missing summer vacation with a passion! True there's gonna be a whole two more months worth of the white stuff to contend with but the way I look at it a good sixty, seventysome days from now it's probably gonna be a little warmer and all of those get out 'n have fun juices are gonna start flowin' about like the sap from a tree. And I'd make a particularly vulgar reference as to which part of the body the sap is gonna be flowin' from, but I will refrain at least this one time

Hey guess what I made for dinner? Paella! Of course I hadda make do with a few minor substitutes like using a couple of links of some leftover Eyetalian sausage in place of chorizo and canned tomatoes 'stead of diced, skinned and de-seeded fresh ones, but I think the results were OK even if I don't even own a paella pan! I must admit that the paella did turn out kinda bland (the recipe I used didn't call for paprika which I think woulda spiced it up a bit) but edible enough that I am going to attempt it again mainly because I actually bought some real-life saffron for authenticity and surely do not want it to go to waste! Of course I'm no Manuel from FAWLTY TOWERS, but I think I did a halfway decent job if I do say so myself because the stuff just flew off the plates and into the gullets faster than you can say "bon appetit!" (Next time I will leave out the tomatoes and double up on the peppers and seafood, maybe use some chicken and let the liquid base reduce about 50% before adding the rice etc. and so forth...)

Uh, er, now onto the main blood and guts of this post! If you're expecting one of those big weekend blowouts where I babylon and on about all of those tasty goodies I've heard this weekend ferget it! I must 'fess up to you faithful readers that I not only haven't received anything good enough to write about this week, but I haven't received anything at all PERIOD! Things are pretty slow (monetarily, spiritually...) around the BLOG TO COMM offices right now, and though I undoubtedly will find some old platters inna collection to write up if only to satisfy your vicarious living through my maybe stellar to your existence right now I'm having a hard time enough getting rah-rah'd about anything other'n a whole load of oft-mentioned goodies that I just can't shake loose from myself and why should I repeat myself as to items you've known and loved for years anyway! Maybe when I finally get that order in to Forced Exposure, or better yet those items I won on ebay that have been held up in England for well over a month this blog will once again get into high gear and we can ALL sweat this winter out with total aplomb! (The excuse being given for the non-arrival of a number of overseas goodies is the horrid weather they're having over in the well-monikered "Blighty" which is somehow slowing down the mail delivery but sheesh, don't you think that those platters I won back in December should have made their way to my door long ago? Let's just say that this hungry lad is actually getting hungrier for these items which I bid on for the express purpose of getting me through them bitter winter months!!!)
Hokay, there's one item that I did receive which I know you sophisticated urbanites who tune into this blog would want to know all about even if it is about as uppa date and as relevant to your own personal well being as the Edsel. What I'm talkin' at'cha about's this particular issue of MORE TRASH FROM MAD that I'd actually had been seeking ever since I was a mere teenbo, mid-teens at that! This is the ish from '63 (pretty boss year, perhaps the last truly boss year there was as well!) with the original (as opposed to the more popular 1972 edition) TV GUIDE insert spoof which I must say looked mighty enticing to me. Well, maybe this one wasn't as enticing as the one with the mock Sunday Funnies section from a few years earlier of any of those record inserts with Alfred E. Neuman burping "It's a Gas" or bad Archie Bunker impersonations, but it sure seemed like it would make for a fun read. Unfortunately the early-sixties vintage "TV Guise" spoof ain't as hot as I thought it would be with the writers even muffing up a perfect gag such as "The Hillbilly Doctors", an obvious spoof of the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES/BEN CASEY/DR. KILDARE trend which I thought they coulda gotten a lotta comedy mileage outta but didn't. The program listings as well as the "TV Teletripe" sections were also flubbed badly enough which made me think that my thirtysome-year wait really was all for naught. Sheesh, the Jay Ward one that appeared in the April Fool's Day '63 issue of the real TV GUIDE (with a pic of Bullwinkle tickling Vince Edwards on the cover and a really guffaw-inducing interview with Dudley Dooright) was way funnier and even contained a few ideas later to be found on FRACTURED FLICKERS t'boot! Stick with the '72 edition if you want a way better ribbing of the television norm with high-larious writeups on some new programs for the upcoming season such as THE EVEN NEWER DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and of course ALL IN ONE WEIRD FAMILY. And come to think of it, considering that MAD wasn't exactly at their tippie-toppest at this point in time (face it, HELP! was running rings around 'em!) even the reprinted material from the '61/'62 season ain't that special either! At least they coulda snuck in some of those Wallace Wood-inked newspaper comics parodies which as I said was the thing that got me reading MAD inna first place!

Yeah, I know that you came here for some music so here goes (don't say I didn't warn ya!)...following are just a few of the vinyl-edition platters that have been capturing my attention as of late which I don't think I've ever mentioned on this blog before, the first being an interesting piece of seventies non-esoterica that goes by the name of
THE ESSENTIAL SANDY BULL. This is one of those budget-priced "twofa" sets that features what I guess is somebody's idea of the should-be-famous multi-instrumentalist's "best" slapped onto two longplaying albums and rushed almost directly into the cutout bins of the land back around the time the guy finally left the Vanguard label some time in the early-seventies. As you already know I've been a huge fan of Bull's at least since the middle portion of the previous decade (and could kill all of those naysayers who were badmouthing him back when I expressed some interest in the mid/late-eighties---I was so impressionable back then), and although I already have all of the actual releases by this hard-to-categorize performer on hand this set is a nice addition to the collection especially since I can now hear "Electric Blend" without the stops and warbles that affect my defective Cee-Dee copy!

Given that Bull was only able to crank out four albums during his nine-year contract with Vanguard it's not like this album was really as essential as the title would make it out to be. But like they used to say if you couldn't get the originals and this thing was starin' you right inna face what other choice did you have but to pick the durn thing up! And it is a solid set with a pretty even-handed sampling from all of Bull's albums which sound just as great the way they are programmed here as they did way back when the original albums came out. What's more, this thing clocks in at almost two hours which used to be considered a humungous bargain back in those album length-conscious days when we'd all feel cheated after buying an album consisting of only a half hour's worth of music! Of course while you're listening to Bull tackle a variety of stringed instruments filtered through reverb as well as various percussives (even steel drums on the Caribbean-inspired "Sweet Baby Jumper"!) you could always peruse the come-ons for the rest of the Vanguard stable which are proudly displayed in the gatefold sleeve, but then again you'll only end up muttering 'bout how that label really came up with a buncha losers with Bull being the only real winner in the entire batch! And if I didn't impress you enough, Bull was a guy whose music and career transcended a whole slew of styles and tastes going from early-sixties folk to Fahey/Basho-styled strumming to blues to rock & roll to underground, and he's the only guy I can think of who palled around with Dylan before Dylan hit the big time, appeared in performance with Joan Baez and Patti Smith plus got booked at Max's Kansas City and CBGB making him a true underground rock scion you surely could do well by giving a listen to!

Another long-lost goodie dug up in the mess known as my album collection is the ELECTRONIC MUSIC sampler that was released on the Turnabout label way back in the days when tape manipulations were considered to be just as electronic as those early analog synthesizers that were filling up entire rooms in university music centers across the United States and Europe.
My copy is worn a bit and emits the crackles and pops known to drive audiophiles into fits of rage but it's still solid enough for my listening pleasure not only with John Cage's "Fontana Mix" (named so in a vain attempt to get this on the Fontana label a la Wayne Fontana!) but Ilhan Mimaroglu's "Agony" (no obv. joke here nosiree!) and an entire side of Luciano Berio's "Visage" where once-wife Cathy Berberian gets to coo and moan all through ex-hubby's obv. Cage-inspired tapework. It's the stuff that everybody poo-poo'd until "Revolution 9" came out and suddenly tape realizations were hip since they now had the Beatles' imprimatur proudly placed upon it! Speaking of Beatles, Berberian's freaksody singing on "Visage" made me wonder whatever happened to those tapes of Yoko Ono doing her own version of "Fontana Mix" as well as other pre-John rarities that were supposed to make it out way back in the early-seventies. I mean, wouldn't you think the time was ripe for that BEST OF YOKO ONO Lennon mentioned in the Wenner ROLLING STONE interview just about now because frankly, I really could use something like that to snap my brain synapses!

On the downside, an album like ELECTRONIC MUSIC also brings back bad memories of that term paper I did on the form when I was a sophomore in high school and my sister flubbed up the typing, referring to Sun Ra as being "Sien Ra" amongst other things which really helped notch the darn thing down a few grade points! And after all that hard work I put into it too! (Sorry Jillery, but after all these years you could still say that I continue to smart over the entire debacle or else I wouldn't stop mentioning it!)

Here's yet another old one from the bin that I haven't listened to in quite awhile, and I must admit that spinning the thang did send me back well over twennysome years to a time which I think I would have preferred to have forgotten considering what a miserable go of it I was having during those not-so-funtime days! But you all know about HAVE MOICY, that album which was so all-encompassing and chock fulla that Americana goodness that the blamed thing was even powerful enough to "bring together" such disparate minds as Robert Christgau and myself, and surprisingly that little fact hasn't negated my opinion of it one iota like you thought it would now, didn't it!

I can barely remember this three-way collab twixt the Unholy Modal Rounders, Michael Hurley and Jeffrey Fredricks and the Clamtones getting a li'l bitta push when it came out back in the bicentennial year of '76, and since then HAVE MOICY has become a under-the-radar classic of sorts. And why wouldn't it with its kounterkultural mix of hippydippy, good wholesome folk music and typically Roundersesque snide making what just haddavebeen "thee" last word in Lower East Side underground folk (with a heaping helping of Bucks County), at least until the arrival of the various "new" folkies in the eighties who sure stole more'n a lotta thunder from these guy and even made a li'l headway with it. Sure the platter might "suffer" somewhat; for example the absence of former Rounder vocalist and Leather Secret/Robert Mapplethorpe haberdasher Camille O'Grady is sorely felt, but by this time she was scouring the New York punk scene with her own act and I guess couldn't be bothered. Waddeva, a nice li'l blast from the mid-seventies which was probably "aged" even at birth, but as Linus used to say in the old PEANUTS strip "500 years from now who will know the difference?"

R.I.P. TIME: Jack LaLanne dead at 96...morning television never was the same since they took him and that good old timey organ music off the air! Butt of jokes for years and peddler of "juicers", LaLanne was a pioneer of the tee-vee fitness craze whom I'll always associate with Veg-O-Matic commercials considering how the local station (channel 33) used to slip ads for that monstrosity in during his program as if exercise and eating french fries went hand in hand. Does anybody remember the name of his dog who used to lounge about on the couch while LaLanne was doing all of those facial exercises for the frowzy old housewives who were tuning in? And hey, was Debbie Drake (the female counterpart to LaLanne as well as two of the biggest names in television exercise) available for comment? Let's just say that the passing of this health "guru" as they say really does drive home the fact as to just how far television has devolved from fun cornballisms to stodgy political piousness these past few decades, and frankly I won't rest until I turn on my set and see TELECOMICS on where they once ran Ellen Degenerate thus insuring a healthy future for the suburban slobs of Ameriga like myself!

Also just heard about the passing of Charlie Callas...who could forget his old tit-squeeze routine which he actually got away with everywhere from HOLLYWOOD SQUARES to PSA's for Ma Bell (I still remember his retort to Elke Sommers...[voice a la Cary Grant doing the old "Judy Judy Judy" routine]..."ELKE ELKE ELKE...honk honk!").

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