Monday, November 28, 2011

F'd In the A

We're gradually moving away from the cheap, shoddy webcam and towards the real camera, but the going is plenty slow.  Apologies for using the Can-Can yet AGAIN (Christ, Dewey!!!), but I only have four classical tunes on my computer.  I could download more, certainly, but this is where my blue-ribbon laziness comes in.  Also, there were originally more 'naughty bits' in play during that scene (Ain't Charlene's facial expressions might give ya a clue), but Smith thought it was more smutty, less funny, so its gone.  There was an additional skit, part of which I filmed outside this weekend, but which didn't involve hypothermia, so it was cut short for another day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SOPA Bloody SOPA

The Selfish Old People's Asses--whoops, sorry, the Stop Online Piracy Act comes to town.

Background Info--the school pictured in the vid is actually the Bluegrass Baptist School, where I was in attendance from Kindergarten through the Fifth Grade.  It was not for the criminally insane, nor was it for especially gifted (criminally insane) children.  The "bigger chunks are better" test question was based on an actual test question I had from the 2nd Grade.  Even back then I knew it didn't make a lick of sense, and for some reason that stuck with me all these years.  Unfortunately (and quite unlike Fruitcakenutty), I didn't make a big stink about the relevance of such a question.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Record Collector's Time Machine Part One


What record collector hasn't dreamed of turning his RCA 45-EY-2 phonograph into a time machine, and going back to get some limited-edition colored vinyl?

Surely there could be no consequences to such a thing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Come Play With Us, Dewey (For Ever and Ever and Ever) - Fox Trot

Vision, the First:  Back in the late 1980s and just out of high school, I began collecting New Order import singles.  I had them all, except for the "Subculture" remix, which I'd never even seen.

One morning as I laid in bed, unable to sleep, unwilling to get up, I saw it in my head:  "Subculture," with its plain black sleeve and die-cut label opening ... available now at Cut Corner records.

I took a quick shower and drove to the used record store.  And there, sure enough, was a copy of "Subculture," in its plain black sleeve with the die-cut label hole.  Cha-ching, why yes, I would like a bag with that, thank you.

At the time, I could have given the situation more thought, but was just happy to finally complete my New Order singles collection.  It was certainly odd, but surely just a coincidence.

Vision, the Second:  Several years later, after a fruitless morning spent at garage sales, I went to see my mother.  At this point in my collecting life, New Order singles had given way to 78s from the acoustic period.  I preferred dance music and fox trots over the ever-common Victor Red Seals and Columbia Symphony Series, but I would take anything from the era, provided it was affordable and in good shape.

As I laid by the pool, basting in oil and sweat, I couldn't shake the feeling I had missed something.  A hook snagged in my mind and grew stronger, pulled harder.

I felt as though a physical rope were wrapped around my neck, and were pulling--nay, yanking me back into the house.

I went inside and checked the newspaper again.  Same poor crop of garage sale ads:  Baby clothes and gently-used electronics and wicker furnishings.  Nothing drool-worthy.  I went a step further, to the 'for sale' section, and my eyes bugged out:  FOR SALE:  FIFTY 78 RECORDS, CARUSO, SOME DANCE, $30 FOR ALL.  CALL EDITH.

I called Edith and asked if the records were still for sale.  Yes, Edith said, and gave me her address.

I and Mom drove out to Edith's house, in the historic district.  Edith greeted us and took us to a back room.  The records had belonged to her mother, she said.  Unfortunately, her mother was going to a nursing home, and the records had been found in her bedroom closet, in a hat box.  She didn't think most of them had been played.

"Back in those days, it was the thing to just have records, not really to play them," Edith said.

Here were the records.  Yep, the top disc in the healthy, sleeved stack was a Victor Red Seal, Caruso doing "Love Is Mine."  Nothing my neighbors would hear on my Victrola with annoying regularity, but nice to look at, fun to hold.  And in great shape.

The next record, however, was most definitely NOT a Caruso, and most definitely NOT a red Victor.

It was a brown-shellac Vocalion, by Ben Selvin, and a fox trot.  And in a Vocalion sleeve.  At that time, I had more fingers than I did Vocalions, which were my shellac Grail.

Past that was another Vocalion.  And another.  And here was a brown-shellac Perfect, as shiny and new as the day it rolled off the showroom floor.  I had ached for Perfect 78s since the first time I'd seen them many years hence, untouchable and ridiculously expensive at some fool's garage sale.  Fox trot after happy, merry fox trot.  Holy jumped-up jimminey Christmas, I'd hit the mother lode!!

Vocalions and Perfects and Regals and Banners.  As I flipped through the records I felt like Shelly Duval as she went through Jack Nicholson's pages, only instead of creeped-out, I was elated.  And instead of creepy pages, they were records.

Nothing in the pile was especially price guide-worthy, but they were all in correct sleeves, they were all in great shape, and they were soon going to be MINE!

While on the drive home, with the box of 78s belted against the back seat, something occurred to me--had that psychic rope not pulled me into the house and to the newspaper ads, I would have missed this collection.  Ordinarily I never checked the for sale ads.  How could I have known these records were there?  How was it possible?

Surely, just a coincidence.  But after five or six more improbable discoveries, I couldn't fool myself.  I had the shine.  

This was not just any shine.  I couldn't hold mental conversations with my grandmother.  I couldn't scribble backwards portents in lipstick for mirror viewing.  And if I foresaw a river of blood splashing down from an elevator door at the Time-Life office where I worked, it was more wishful thinking than second sight.

But if there were records calling my name, I could find them. For this was the Record-Shine.

I'm not sure when this power came along.  Thinking back, as a nerdy kid I was always able to fish a pile of 45s out from under a stack of clothing, or to find the one 78 hidden in a box of Mantovani albums.  It wasn't something I considered, just something I did.  The old man said I had an uncanny knack for finding ways to spend his money at the garage sales we visited.

I surely wasn't going to question it.  In the coming years I saw Grand Prize Victors, Brunswicks, red-shellac Grey Gulls;  I saw cardboard Hit Of the Weeks, and Standards and Harmonys with the larger center holes, and sapphire Pathes which played from the center outward.  Sometimes storage albums, occasionally record players.  It didn't seem to work for anything else, or in any other capacity.  Funny.

How do I have this power?  Was I born with it?  Is there a little boy who lives in my mouth, who knows where these records are, and points me towards them like a compass?  Dunno.

In those pre-Ebay days it seemed that my record acquisitions came in waves.  I always knew if a weekend jaunt to an antique mall was going to be fruitless.  I could drive to every junk store in three states and not find anything, if my shine wasn't right.  When it was right, however, cha-ching!

Instead of driving myself into a frenzy to find elusive records, it seemed best to go about my normal life and allow my shine to pop up whenever records were ripe for the plucking.

For years I thought I was the only one, but turns out others have this power, as well.  "Only mostly, they don't know it, or don't believe it."

Maybe its the ghosts of former record collectors, guiding us to the score.  Whatever the reason, however we have this power, SDROCER, baby!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Y'all Come!


Yippie ki yay, motherfucker! *skeee-douche!!*

When we were kids, the trip up to Dayton to see my Aunt was like a well-paced action movie--tho it didn't look nearly as good sweaty, barefoot, and bulging in a wife-beater ...

We drove up to Ohio for most holidays, and during the school year, we hopped directly from the school bus seat to the Chevelle back seat. Those times were the best, since besides getting to eat a drive-thru dinner with shoes off while watching the interstate "movie," we'd usually hit Cincinnati right after sundown. All those blazing colorful lights looked like a New York City Mini-Me.

Soundtrack music on the radio: Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now," Frankie Valli's "My Eyes Adored You," and later, Earth, Wind & Fire doing "After the Love Has Gone."

Outside of Lexington, there was a slow build-up of rural countryside; just enough memorized landmarks to keep us peaked: The massive Walton railroad bridge, the secluded office building with a lone switch track out front (sometimes with a blue Conrail diesel parked out front), and no end of Union 76 gas signs--my favorite.

By the time we hit the monolithic Florence water tower ("Florence, Y'all!"), the action built up to a fever pitch--four lanes became six, then eight. Daddy invariably told us to put our seat belts on. The two-story drain pipe elbowed out of the bedrock like rusty skeletal work. Then around the corner, and Cincinnati appeared like a brightly-lit mirage.

Even if we hit the city in the daytime, there was still plenty of bang for the buck: The beehive Quality Inn, the old-fashioned stadium-sized Pepsi logo, and of course the Brent Spence bridge: A double-decker, a backseat wonder, its size unfathomable. The river below looked like the most regal body of slow-moving chocolate milk ever.

There were so many bridges and trestles and water towers, it was like an overzealous teenager's model railroad layout.

By day was well enough, but at night the city was a Vegas strip for kids. Some sights were shrouded in darkness, but enough others were decorated with secular Christmas.

Once over the river, we were finally in Ohio. Up there, things were different: Bridges Freeze Before Roadway became Bridge Ices Before Roadway. Boron gas stations became Sohio. Even the railings of their bridges looked different. Just barely, but still ... different. It was almost like being in a delightful parallel universe.

After the river was a blitzkrieg of overpasses, underpasses, historic stone arches, and buildings so strange and wonderful, they may as well have been unidentified Egyptian artifacts. There was the Mead building, with its logo identical to the one on our spiral-bound notebooks. There was the endless overpass, which seemed ready to deliver us to the Pearly Gates (or at the very least, to zero-gravity), there was the GE plant with its Bionic Bigfoot-sized logo, there was the Fruehauf sign.

Outside of Cincy, this action movie stepped back and took a much-needed breath. Most days, Dad would have the radio tuned to WHAS, which played the Chickenman series. I couldn't understand a word of it; just more paradise heard by dashboard lights.

There were still landmarks: The Johnson Controls building, with its matching Johnson Controls railroad cars on its Johnson Controls railroad siding. There was a distant sign in an industrial park which said DAY-TON (on two lines). There were the green flappy fin-things sticking out of the concrete highway divider; an optical illusion, they looked cylindrical until you passed them, and realized they were actually flat.

At long last we'd hit the Needmore Road exit, and would finally leave the interstate for the third act. There was the railroad yard, with seemingly thousands of trains. There squatted the Cargil plant, which smelled like instant mashed potatoes. There were the stop lights, some of which were actually turned sideways.

And then we'd pull up in the driveway in a different neighborhood, and bright light would spill from the front door, and there were hugs, and smiles, and Yippie Ki Yay, motherfucker. It was fun.

Also, my uncle had a totally bitching quadrophonic stereo. Not that I was mainly interested in that, or anything. *cough*

Driving back, usually on the following Sunday morning, was far less of a thrill. There were still plenty of sights to see, especially those we couldn't see on the northbound trip. But coming back was never as much fun. It was more like watching a good action movie on network, with the good parts cut out; and knowing you had to go back to school in the morning. Bleh.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

That Old Glenburn of Mine!


There have been more records in my life than squares of toilet paper. And considering how full of shit I am, that's saying something.

When I came along, my folks lived in a duplex in the north end of town, in a very old college neighborhood. It was the perfect place for a boy: There was a service station on the corner, with no end of trucks pulling in and out, and best of all, a railroad track just across the street.

I have only vague memories of my folks' first console stereo, a munchkin box from W. T. Grants, which was little more than a faux speaker grill on stubby legs. After that Hobbit delight passed came Big Sears--a seven foot behemoth, awash in fake oak laminate, with the obligatory plastic sunflower designs on the front panels.

The turntable was a Glenburn, and despite its Michael Myers-treatment of records, I'll always have a soft spot for this player. With its ridiculously-thin tonearm, cork turntable mat, and springy sounds during the change cycle, it was the first player I can remember watching on a regular basis.

In those days, the family TV set was still just a plastic Ford-Philco on a roller cart, with a speaker the size of a transistor radio--so Big Sears dominated, and rocked every hour. I knew good times were coming when Mom took down that brown paper sack of 45s from the hall closet--all records from her high school and college years: Mostly Beatles, Herman's Hermits, and "Georgie Girl" by the Seekers.

I liked watching 45s play the best; without regard to my fruit fly-attention span, you could really SEE the records as they played. The fact that the Glenburn used a crooked 45 adapter, and that its spindle faced bottom left instead of the universal upper right, certainly helped. How many hours did I spend, watching that orange-yellow swirl spin around and around? I'll never know; a lot!

There were albums, of course, but since you couldn't see them being played (only the top record in the stack, waiting for its turn), those had to be appreciated strictly for musical content, and not just the carnival aesthetics of spinning: Bobby Sherman, Tammy Wynette, and Leroy Holmes doing an album of western themes.

There were also 8-track tapes, but they were mostly blasphemous. At least with albums, eventually you could watch the top record as it turned. With tapes, there was only the occasional blip of the blue channel light as it jumped from one to four. Boo!

By the time my sister was born, the neighborhood had taken an unfortunate turn for the worse, so we moved further south to Red River. Despite its name, Red River was just a clump of very modest one-story brick houses; there may have been snooty aspirations, however, since instead of numerals, the house numbers were spelled out in a gaudy black font. So it wasn't "170," it was "One-Seventy!" Snooty. Or worse, Wanna-Be-Snooty.

I was immediately disappointed with the lack of railroad tracks. However, there were plenty of deep rain gullies in the field out back, and these became our trenches, hide outs, and secret trails. And there were enough wild blackberry bushes to keep our fingers purple all summer.

Around this time, the Ford-Philco was traded in for a big floor-model Quasar TV, and this spelled doom for Big Sears. During this time, I can't ever remember my folks using the stereo, except to placate me, and usually with Dad's old Bill Cosby albums.

By this time, most of Mom's 45s had passed down to me, which was exciting, but also unfortunate: Once records were played on my little Imperial machine, they couldn't come anywhere near Big Sears again. I suppose Mom thought the Imperial did bad things to records, maybe akin to wiping one's butt and then not washing one's hands. But in fairness, the Imperial hadn't widened the center hole of Barbara Streisand's "Stony End" to pre-1920 Harmony 78 size. Whatever.

For Christmas I got a GE Wildcat (in the bile-gray), my first ever record changer. Never mind that the automatic function didn't even last until my next birthday. Later I got a console of my own. Poor Big Sears.

By the time I started 2nd Grade, we had moved again, and Big Sears was relegated to the basement family room, where it would languish, used only occasionally by me--at least until an unfortunate incident in the early 80s.

My folks had bought me a big box of 1950s records at a garage sale, among them a nice set of Golden kiddie records. While playing "The Chocolate Cowboy," I noticed the 78 speed on the Glenburn was a little slow. For some reason, I thought this could be corrected by FORCING the speed switch further to the left.

Not only did this brilliant home remedy NOT work, it had the opposite effect: The speed knob snapped off in my chubby little hand, and the switch itself became forever lodged on 16 rpm. Sixteen, that pointless mystery speed; it couldn't have been 33, at least--I had plenty of 33s. No, 16--the least-seen records ever, in those pre-internet days.

Oops. I removed "The Chocolate Cowboy," turned the Glenburn off, and closed the lid. My only saving grace was that since nobody ever used the stereo anymore, maybe they wouldn't notice.

But my conscious got the better of me, and I confessed my sin to Mom. To my surprise, she wasn't even mad. The following summer, Big Sears was sold at a garage sale for two dollars, to a woman who only wanted it for the radio.

And with that went the last console stereo my folks ever owned. Granted, one of my Magnavox consoles spent a good amount of time in their living room (which, to my chagrin, my old man actually used on occasion). Now Mom has one of those blasphemous Crosleys, but I've never actually seen her use it. In fact, I don't even think its been plugged in, which is surely a blessing, considering it would be more Ridley Scott's "Alien," than Micheal Myers, on unsuspecting vinyl.

I miss Big Sears! But more than that, I miss the days when people actually used it because they wanted music, and not just to "simmer that boy down."