November 20, 2015

How to Destroy Your Vinyl Records: A Guide for Seniors

Greetings, aging music lover!

Congratulations on living a long life, a life filled with joy and sorrow, pain and triumph, and, of course, wonderful music. Yes, Dear Friend, at every step of your journey, you were surrounded by beautiful melodies created by the world's finest musical artists. Their songs touched your heart. They helped you through the rough patches. They made the good times feel even better. 

Even now, as the icy finger of Death gently tap tap taps on your shoulder, you can not help but smile as you gaze lovingly at your vinyl record collection which you have so diligently curated. Each gleaming scratchless platter is as close to perfection as the day it was manufactured, a testament to your love for and dedication to the recorded arts.

Say, have you stopped to consider what will become of this treasure trove after you have departed this mortal realm? Many people such as yourself have bequeathed their records to a close friend or family member, receiving sincere assurances that said records will be treasured, cared for, and passed down to each succeeding generation. Alas, nothing could be further from the truth. 

The painful reality is, you will scarcely even have begun your eternal slumber before the sweaty and possibly jelly-stained fingers of your son or nephew will begin carelessly rifling through your precious vinyl stockpile. "What's this crap?" he will exclaim. "Who the fuck is Buddy Rich?" 

Your beneficiary, having failed to discern the inestimable cultural value of your collection, will then proceed to recklessly hoist your record crates into the back of his freakishly oversized pickup truck, drop them off orphan-style at the front door of the nearest thrift store and peel away, bobbing his head zombie-like to the rhythm of the latest gangsta rap hit. 

Soon, your prized possessions will be unceremoniously dumped on the floor underneath three shelves that contain hardcover books no one will buy for even a quarter, like Jimmie Walker's autobiography, Dyn-O-Mite!  or any Jackie Collins novel after Hollywood Wives. They will swiftly be procured by an eagle-eyed entrepeneur who talks like a sophisticated music aficionado, but is really only interested in the crinkly tones produced by shuffling big stacks of cash. 

Through his Ebay store, he will sell your cherished records for exorbitant prices and then send them, one by one, to every corner of the globe. Your ghost self will watch helplessly as your Basie goes to Boise, and your Miles goes to Milan. You will then spend the rest of eternity wandering about aimless and confused, trying but endlessly failing to remember the tune of one goddamn song.

Ah, but what if there was a way to foil the plans of this vulturous villain, the vinyl profiteer? Luckily, there is! Although there is no way your records will not wind up in a thrift store, by following the steps in this handy guide, you can make sure your collection will never leave that thrift store in this fiend's possession. In fact, you will get a good ghostly chuckle when you see his reaction to your clever handiwork.

1. Make sure you are dying. Some common signs of dying are difficulty breathing, constant chest pains, and profuse bleeding. To help along the process, avoid all doctors.

2. Take care not to deface or spoil in any way the visible outside jackets of your albums. You want to preserve the element of surprise by making your adversary confident that he has stumbled upon a cache of vinyl gold.

3. Remove vinyl records from the jackets, paper inner sleeve and all. Remove vinyl records from paper inner sleeves. Discard paper inner sleeves. 

4. If you are still allowed to handle sharp eating utensils, procure a salad fork from the kitchen. Carefully make a long deep gouge on one side of each vinyl record, preferably over the best song.

5. If you are no longer allowed to handle sharp eating utensils, or if you just want to be extra thorough, spread your vinyl records out on the living room floor. Release six mice and twelve feral sharp-clawed cats into the living room and quickly retreat to a safer room until the commotion dies down. 

6. Prepare a cleaning solution for your vinyl records. A dark cola is ideal, but coffee or beer will do. Gently grasp each record with one hand, wearing a baseball mitt if desired, and apply the cleaning solution to each record. Next, use your free hand to spread the solution out evenly, taking care to oversaturate the paper label.

7. Put your vinyl records next to a heat source to dry. Fireplaces and radiators work well, but a hair dryer will do in a pinch. Leaving them out in the sun to dry is not recommended, as you may not have that much time left.

8. (Optional) After your vinyl records have all dried, why not take a permanent marker and write your name on some of the record labels? If you are feeling creative, you can write other things as well, like "Kilroy was here" or "Eat shit, Ebay Man!" 

9. Carefully place your vinyl records back into their immaculate record jackets. Do not be overly concerned about matching each vinyl record up with its corresponding jacket. Neatly place your albums back in their crates. Fall down the stairs. Die.

Mission accomplished! Now, all you have to do is float over to the nearest thrift store and wait for the fun to begin. Your soul will be at peace forever knowing that your lifelong passion for record collecting has not been crassly exploited for some shady character's quick financial gain, and you'll likely bust a ghostly gut watching his face slowly turning red with exasperated fury.

As for the music, don't worry. Rest assured that The Afterlife has one hell of a band. When you get there, say "Hi" to Satchmo for me.

November 19, 2015

Heinz Edelmann: Before and After "Yellow Submarine"

Heinz Edelmann (1934-2009) is best remembered for his role as Art Director for the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. Here is a gallery of illustrations he did for various other projects.












November 4, 2015

A Range Estrangement or Any Title Will Do

Don't you kind of hate it when, after a blog has been dormant for a while, the blogger returns with all sorts of apologies and explanations for his or her absence? Although the gesture may be full of considerate intentions, I always kind of feel that the blogger may be overinflating the importance of the whole enterprise. I figure about 75% of blogs, including this one, could be erased today and there wouldn't be a wet eye in the global house.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I like the concept of blogging. When done well, a blog can even  rise to the status of essential reading. Mark Evanier's blog has been a daily ritual for many years now. Mr. Evanier has led a storied life and recounts anecdotes from it in a very urbane and articulate manner. He is interested in a variety of subjects (showbiz, politics, comics, creamy tomato soup, etc.) and knows how to make those subjects interesting to the casual reader and to people who already share those interests. He posts so frequently, I often wonder how he finds the time. In short, Mark Evanier's blog makes most other blogs look like a pile of koala droppings.

I haven't led a storied life. North Carolina is a long way from Los Angeles and the colorful characters with whom Mark Evanier has crossed paths. Having Asperger's Syndrome, I rarely socialize with regular folks, let alone celebrities. When I was three, my dad took me to an autograph signing to meet Nascar legend Richard Petty. The big mystery is whatever happened to the glossy photo "King" Richard signed for me that day. My guess is, somewhere down the line my Dad sold or traded it for a case of Schlitz or a tackle box or some other needful thing. Thank heavens I don't care one bit about Nascar racing.

Contrary to popular belief, some North Carolinians are more partial to Kurt Vonnegut novels, Ingmar Bergman films, and the musical output of Frank Zappa than college basketball and Dukes of Hazzard reruns. I wish I could meet them, but they are few and far-between and I don't get out much. North Carolina is a beautiful state filled with friendly salt-of-the-earth people, but it can be lonesome for someone with my cultural sensibilities. And Asperger's.

Actually, my creative pursuits and interests (and the companionship of my most excellent wife, Heather) create a life in which I rarely, if ever, feel lonesome. As Bill Watterson once observed, "the days are just packed." This week, for example, I am writing a classical piece on piano ( just to see if I can), reading the first volume of Fantagraphics' reprinting of Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy comic strip, and watching U-Matic format videos on YouTube. I just purchased an Elvis movie box set and the whole lot of Universal Monster Legacy dvds. I recently wrote a poem and finished the first draft of the first chapter of my coming-of-age novel White Lake Summer 1980. I scored a vinyl copy of The Kinks' Face To Face and I am transferring a great many comic book scans to my external hard drive so I can more easily read them on my television, between sessions of Far Cry 4. Note that none of these activities involve me leaving my cozy apartment.

Here's the poem:

Ghost Town Litany

The ghosts in the ghost town have not forgotten
The balls and the brawls
The foam on the beer
The shiny tin stars
The old engineer
Greenhorns with greenbacks
Ripe for the pickin'
Five Card Stud
Miss Trudy's fried chicken
The boy who got shot
For no reason at all
By the Trumbo Brothers
Two short, one tall
Rattles on snakes
The cry of the wolf
Echoing thunder
The beat of the hoof
Snare drum rain on a pitched tin roof
Sweet girls in bonnets
Wild women in beds
Lasses with notions to put in men's heads
The gleam of the gold
The sting of the lead
The judge and the noose
"Justice," he said
The broken piano that no one could play
It sat in the corner
Out of the way
In a smoke-filled saloon
In a town that's now ghostly
Where ghosts reminisce
About things that they miss
From a time long forgotten

Well, it's not Whitman, but it was fun to write. And it's fun to blog. I'm going to keep doing it, and hopefully do it better and more frequently. I hope that by sharing my own creativity and the creative works that inspire my creativity, you too may feel inspired, or be somewhat entertained. I also hope you will take a minute to comment if you read something you like or take issue with, or if you just want to say hi. I'll respond to any comment, no matter how hard my Aspie brain tells me your comment stands on its own.

Stay attuned...