A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Name Game

Back when I was toiling in the gardens of frequency modulation I worked for a General Manager who was a great guy, a fair manager and was totally clueless about the music we played. His favorite group? Dicky Doo and the Don’ts. Google it if you don’t believe me. Hint: They had a Pittston connection. The song was “Click, Clack”. Of course this GM, who we will call “Lumpy” because that was what we called him, also referred to “the kids” playing their “transistor radios” and this was during the 90’s. It got me thinking about group names, specifically groups who play in our local small bars. A quick glance at the publication you hold in your hands provides more than a few. My point here is that all these bands took the time to come up with a name. Only a few came up with a name that you could reasonably infer what sort of music they might offer on a given night out. Just sayin’ that it might help their draw. I make no judgment on the quality of the music. In most cases I would not know the groups in question if I fell over them. Groups I could figure out on my own without any help from description or pictures: Long Strange Trip. Random Rock. (Classic Rock) Runners-up in this category are Iron Cowboy (Country) and Bad Hair Day (80’s), but they had pictures so no fair. Groups that I can sort of guess at but I might be wildly off: Catacomb Creeps. Dirty Vultures. The Dependable Felons. Necessary Noise. Pave the way. (Heavy Metal). Now we veer off into uncharted territory. Johnny Unit. Tribes. Gone Crazy. Faded Fortune. Jerry’s Finger. ( I think it should be Smell Jerry’s Finger, but that’s just me). Ends Of The Earth. Sucker Punch. Dam Shannon. Bare Knuckle. (No clue). Groups with “N” in the middle: Rock N Horse. Skin N Bones. I81 N 151 (As clueless as Lumpy). And the ever popular misspelled names: Hat Tryk. Kartune. Black Orkid. (Really no idea at all). Now I am sure these are all great bands. Hard working bands. Bands with talent and oodles of creativity. After all they came up with these cool names, Right? Or maybe not. Maybe they just put random words together. Long Random Catacomb. Dirty Dependable Noise. Jerry’s Knuckle Sucker. Johnny Gone Faded. Hmmm. I might have something here. Of course I have yet to mention the most popular band of all time, judging from the number of appearances. It seems to me that the group that week in and week out has the most gigs is Penny ‘til U Pee. (Golden Shower Oldies). I could be wrong.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Write Something Stupid

Write something stupid. What a great phrase. You see, if you could hear me say those three words out loud I could give them at least two different meanings. It’s either for me to write something that IS stupid. Or I could be calling MYSELF stupid. In either case that is exactly what we have here today. A stupid writer writing something stupid. Stupid is as stupid does, Forrest. We all know that groups are sometimes named. A murder of crows, a pride of elephants and so on. When I worked for big radio I would refer to a group of salespeople as a stupid of salespeople. This probably explains why I no longer work in radio. And why salespeople don’t send me Christmas cards. I commit stupid on average at least five times a day. But my brother in law took the stupid crown away from me for a while the other day. We will call him Mickey because that is his name. He lives with the long suffering wife’s sister who should be a saint by now. Mickey is the most generous person I know. The guy would literally give you the proverbial shirt off his back. So when his wife, due for immediate canonization upon her passing, mentioned she was about to call a relative, Mickey leaped to the portable phone and quickly dialed the number for her. I told you he was a helpful guy. Except in this case it didn’t work out so well. Recently Mickey bought new cordless phones. In his haste and unfamiliarity with the technology Mickey dialed 911. Then, when they answered Mickey committed his second stupid of the moment. He hung up without saying a word. You have to admire the diligence of 911. They called back immediately. Of course Mickey wanted nothing to do with the phone at this time. His wife (you are now seeing why she is a candidate for sainthood) was left to answer. The dispatcher informed her that the Pennsylvania State police were on the way. She assured them that all was well and explained what her well meaning but technologically challenged husband had done. The dispatcher was not entirely convinced and suggested that it would be best if the Staties came over and had a look see. Using a tool known best to wives the world round she made her case to the dispatcher. “STUPID, STUPID, STUPID” she roared at Mickey. “Now the State Police are coming.” I can envision the 911 dispatcher trying not to wet themselves. The promised visit from the long arm of the law was called off. It’s now been strongly suggested that Mickey refrain from dialing. I could be wrong.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dead. Your dead?

Having attended many St. Patrick’s day parades in Scranton in my day, I have seen my fair share of the inexplicable behavior that results from the consumption of too much alcohol. Hell I’ve seen that sort of behavior at office Christmas parties and backyard barbeques for that matter. There is nothing like a shot or two of Ye Olde Stumpblower to set the inhibitions aside and get to the real feelings inside.
A songwriter name of James McMurty said it quite nicely in a song called Too long in the wasteland. “Whiskey don’t make liars, it just makes fools.”
Of course history has long chronicled the rich, powerful and successful who had a close and personal association with John Barleycorn. Winston Churchill (his friends called him “Winny.” No wonder he drank) has been chronicled as being pickled from the moment he got up in the morning until he staggered into bed. But he never shamed the British Empire by trying to blow a dead opossum.
There is a school yard insult about having oral sex with a dead dog but in polite society one never does that sort of thing.
Opossum are generally disgusting even while living. I trapped one once in an effort to catch a squirrel that was trying to make his home in our home, something which infuriated the long suffering wife. The havahart® live trap snared the critter instead, which smelled like it was dead, made hissing noises at me with bared teeth when I tried to free it and was not a happy experience overall for either of us.
So knowing how unpleasant contact of any kind with a living opossum while sober is, I have to just admire the level of intoxication that Donald Wolfe displayed when he allegedly tried to resuscitate a dead opossum with the breath of life.
The story, which was widely reported, had Donny being observed giving mouth-to-mouth to a long dead opossum which was road killed on the side of a highway in Punxsutawney Pa. Witnesses including a State Trooper saw him conducting a “séance” with the dead critter and the law enforcement officer is quoted as saying “He did have his mouth in the area of the animal's mouth...I guess." I think it was a noble attempt on the part of the trooper to save a shred of dignity for Don that he “guessed.”
It may be just coincidence that this occurred in the home of the most famous groundhog in the world. Sure. That’s it. Coincidence.
“Phill….is dat youse, buddy. Oh Phillll…what de hell happened to you? Oh my gawd. Phillll! C’mere little buddy. I’ll (hic) save youse. Phil!. Breath for me pal!!”
I could be wrong.

I'm Dickens, He's Fenster

Did you ever have one of those perfect days? You get out of bed in a good mood. You shave yourself without opening a vein. The breakfast is made without setting the house on fire or dropping it on the floor. On the way out the door the birds are singing a merry tune, the sun is warm on your face and the car starts on the first try. It’s the perfect day. Yesterday was the anti-day of that for me. 180 degrees reversed, like the creepy episode of Star Trek where everyone had an evil twin. Sometimes you have days where you can do anything. Yesterday was the day that I once and for all decided that I can do almost nothing. It’s another home handyman disaster story, folks. It started last fall where I decided to shut down my studio above the garage for the winter. Too much other work on the other jobs. So I drained the toilet, opened the faucets and shut the water off. Turned the heater off and forgot all about it. Yesterday I decided to turn it back on. I carefully (heh) looked over the plumbing. Then turned the water back on. The shut off is in my basement. Studio is a minutes’ walk away. Took my time. Was greeted at the door of the studio by “Agnes” the remake. Sprinted to the house. Fell partway there and knocked the wind and what little sense I had out of me. I shut off the water and returned to the scene of the crime. Expensive microphones were floating around. A pipe that was perfect when I checked it now was clearly not. So I went to the hardware store and they sold me a plastic fitting to fix it. Would probably have worked if I didn’t snap it in half. Now comes the real bad idea. I got the propane torch out, blew the cobwebs off it. The little bastard would only stay lit if I held the barbeque lighter to it. Awkward. Burned myself. Set the plastic drain pipe for the sink on fire. Threw everything into the trash. I was scared to call the plumber. The last time he charged me the 401 k and a quart of blood. A colleague “knew a guy” and he actually showed up, did the fix and charged less than the travel time of the last bandit. I remarked to him about how inept I was. His comment? “Some people are good at some things, and not others.” I thanked him for his well meant condescension and decided then and there that I would stick to what I know how to do well. Naps. Lunch. Dialing 911.