Sunday, March 30, 2014
Quirk - comics from Duck soup Productions: Four Friends, One Spaceship-- and a whole multive...: Four Friends, One Spaceship -- and a whole multiverse of folks they don't get along with! Climb aboard the Frigid for The ...
Of course one of the things I was most concerned about when my computer went down late last year was my music collection. It included not just digital versions of most of the CDs I own, but also: a) 99 percent of my old vinyl record albums and cassette tapes that I’d painstakingly duped to digital form over the better part of a year, b) mp3 songs and albums that I’d put together from a variety of free sources and c) all the digital songs and albums I’ve picked up from Amazon and iTunes over the past four years.
(That latter category is kind of funny to me. Not long ago I scoffed at digital albums and vowed never to buy them. When I saw how much cheaper the digital versions were over physical CDs, and realized that I could burn them to CD myself if I so desired, it’s amazing how fast that old prejudice went down — and how deeply I’ve grown into digital media!)
The good news is, all the music files seemed to be safe on the old drive and just had to be extracted to safer stomping grounds. The bad news is, there seemed to be no easy way to just re-import everything in one clean sweep back onto my new computer. The only thing that seemed to work was to locate the album files, and double-click on every. single. song.
That’s about 12,000 cuts for me.
It has taken me these three months to reach the point where the end is in sight.
Again there’s good news and bad news. You already know the bad news. The good news is that by double-clicking every file, iTunes actually creates a clean new copy — hopefully eliminating any corruption that might have crept in over the years. The other good news (well, mostly good news) is that I’ve been forced to listen to at least the first few bars of every. single. song.
And what that proves is that I’ve done a pretty good job of curating a modest audio collection across a wide range of genres, on a budget and on the cheap, greatly improving my musical vocabulary in the process. Yeah, there are a number of Stinker Albums in there, in large degree the product of my ignorant youth; but the vast majority of it Good Music to Shape Your Life By.
The whole process has made me want to write more often about music and audio… whether in the form of one of those “favorites” lists or as a series of “Great Cuts” or just in an informal series of posts. We’ll see.
You’ll find very little Country music in my collection… and what little I have falls more in the direction of bluegrass folk than towards those godawful twangy-guitar Grand Ole Opry songs about trucks and trailer parks an’ achin’ hearts (note to Southerners: why do you persist in adding syllables to single-syllable words?).
How to sum up my audio collection in as few words as possible? Lots of folk in all its variations, lots of pop, lots of rock in all its variations (including a good hunk of what they call “progressive” rock, and the fruits of a recent interest in head-banging “operatic metal”), a good representative hunk of classical (including the near-complete light operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan and a boatload of Baroque), some New Age, a lot of eclectic stuff that combines all sorts of genres, a smattering of Jazz (all of it of the Vintage sort), a swig of full-blooded cafe-cabaret… and other international styles. Spoken-word comedy albums. A bunch of Vintage Radio. A little of most everything, and a lot of some.
This morning as I write this I’m listening to Loreena McKennitt and considering whether I need more of her. The one album of hers that I have, The Book of Secrets, is something that I’ve enjoyed off and on for years, sometimes late at night, sometimes on the evening commute back home from jobs that I hated. She combines the more atmospheric and lyrical forms of Celtic music with Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean styles; I like the Celtic bits better than the other, so sue me. A Goth group called Dead Can Dance also dabbles in Middle-Eastern styles, and although this may seem astoundingly racist, all of that crap sounds the same to me.
What I’m really saying is that WHITE people IMITATING Middle-Eastern styles all sound alike. And they do.
I suppose it’s fair to compare the Celtic bits of McKennitt to the work of that other Celtic-themed lady, Enya. Their vocal qualities are similar, but McKennitt’s music is richer, more steeped in tradition, more adventurous and far, FAR more Romantic. In fact I’d have to say that Enya has little Romance in her soul, and that — although I like her very much — on a purely emotional level her work is that of a Cold Fish. Sorry Enya.
Both stir Romantic feelings in me, but these feelings are of a peculiarly futile nature. I feel the same about McKennitt and Enya in her Castle as I used to feel about Lady Di after her divorce: you’d sell your mother to the Arabs to be with them, but just exactly how does a dumb schmuck like me, an Asperger’s case from Maine, show a Good Time to the Princess of Fucking Wales?
Friday, March 28, 2014
It's hard for me to avoid using the editorial "we" when I write about the stuff that Duck Soup Productions is putting out every month, and it sometimes seems nutty to keep on typing "we" and "our" when the one person doing the work is me, myself and I. The plural sounds more businesslike to me I guess... whatever the reason, it keeps creeping into these posts -- so if you run into it again just do me a favor and mentally switch the words. Although I could sure use a personal assistant and a full-time, dedicated marketing-type person, I don't have any of that and can't afford it, so as far as the eye can see Duck Soup Productions is me.
This has opened up a slot in my workday... and for the next week or so I'm going to use that slot to give all the websites a little love, updating and expansion. So expect some fresh content on nearly all of the mini-sites soon. I'll also be doing some much-needed marketing tasks that have kind of fallen by the wayside in recent months... yeah, wish me luck on that. Once I feel like I've made a little progress across all those fronts, I'll be devoting this hunk of time every day to producing volume three of QUIRK -- which will be the first volume in the series to include all-new, never-before-published-in-any-form material... including the special story written by my friend Bruce Canwell. Bruce is a writer and editor at The Library of American Comics... he and Dean Mullaney are publishing the best reprints of classic American comics titles ... not just currently, but the best EVER. Check them out. The concluding volume of Bruce's Alex Toth trilogy, Genius Animated, is coming on May 15...
Anyway... a long time ago when Quirk was a web serial, Bruce pinch hit for me, and wrote a story called "The Prunes of Ire." That story never appeared in its entirety at the time... Quirk v3 will see the print debut of the story, all spiffed up and complete. The book will be rounded out with a new story by me that sets the middle act of Quirk's Earth Adventures firmly in motion.
To accomplish this, I'm attempting to learn how to draw in Manga Studio using a WACOM tablet. It sounds like a breeze, but man-o-man, this is in NO WAY intuitive, and so at least some of the new story is likely to be produced the old-fashioned way: in paper, pen and ink!
But that's only a third of my workday. Late nights I work on my Tarot of the Zirkus Magi, and I'm happy to say that I'm nearly halfway through the Minor Arcana. Somehow, someway, somewhere, the full deck will appear complete in 2014! As always, you can follow its progress here.
And in case you were wondering what that graphic at the top of the page is all about.... my next novel (a partial follow-up to See Them Dance, my still-brand-new book for 2014) is Baxter Bunny Escapes. I'm midway through the writing, and starting to work on other aspects of the book, including, as you can see, the cover design. This will likely change in the coming months... Baxter Bunny Escapes isn't due until next year. But I expect to launch its website around the middle of summer. That will include any art and extras that I've developed, along with the first chapter of the novel.
Had enough? It goes on. I have three other books in the pipeline for this year (I hope!)... along with a third Oracle deck (this is a definite).
I'd call the DuckHaus "The House of Ideas" if Stan Lee hadn't already co-opted that phrase years and years and years ago. And while it may all come just from "me" and not "we" -- sometimes I wish for another Brain at the Breakfast Table who could help make that whole "we" thing happen..
Thursday, March 20, 2014
When I was very little, I was terrified by the record you see pictured above. I don't mean "weirded out" or "creeped out" or a little bit scared: I mean TERRIFIED. I mean screaming, running, crying, waving-my-hands TERRIFIED.
My dad brought it home one night, and I'm certain he thought he was doing something nice for his kids. He could not possibly have foreseen the reaction that I would have to the thing. As you can see, side one features the somewhat milder "Yertle the Turtle," and perhaps if they had started me there things would have been different. As it was, and being no more than about three years old (although I will remember it as long as I live), I completely lost it about mid-way through the story, at the point where the guardsman scoops some of that awful stuff onto his sword and puts it in his mouth.
It certainly did not help matters that the production is extremely well-done and uses sound effects to make the story... vivid.
Well... my grandmother was visiting us that night, and the women-folk in the house wasted no time getting out the metaphorical gibbet to hang my dad from. Which hardly seems fair to me now. But at the time I kind of agreed with them: Daddy WAS a terrible person for bringing this horrifying thing into the house.
I'm not exaggerating about the screaming, crying, running and waving my hands about. This record has terrified me all my life and terrifies me to this day. Those creepy wizards! That bad king! That awful stuff coming down out of the sky! Marvin Millar was the narrator, but the actor who played Bartholmew Cubbins really took the role to heart and Cubbins's terror was completely infectious.
I may have written about this before, somewhere in the deep dark past of this blog, but it's on my mind today because I have been gradually restoring my album collection to iTunes after the crash that wiped me out in December. Guess what got added back today. And today I'm going to try something different. Today I am going to make the entire scream-inducing production available for you to listen for yourself. Just click here to download the MP3.
And don't say I didn't warn you.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
|Two cards from Gabrielle Angus-West's audacious Bonefire Tarot
Bonefire Tarot is a passionate mash-up of symbols and influences in blazing colors, hand-painted in the style of tattoo art. As such it draws on more than one tradition, stirring it all up in a rich dayglow cauldron of Outsider art, and splashing the resulting psychedelic stew over the cards in a wave of high energy that’s at once hard on the eyes and soothing to the senses. It is simultaneously outrageous and orhodox. It’s a tarot that bypasses words and reason and shoots straight into your collective unconscious with needle intensity. It’s one of the most astonishing (and to other artists like me, humbling) tarots to emerge in modern times.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
First, the Internal Time of the Pussyquats (always malleable at other times, I’ve found) had not changed; so when I was putting out their food and calling “Dinnertime! Dinnertime! It’s Dinner Time for Pussyquats!” instead of the usual parade into the kitchen I was met with sleepy expressions.
Oh, how I sometimes long for the days when Afternoon TV belonged to Us Kids. Before the Oprahs and the Katies and the Judge Judys took over the afternoons, this was where local TV stations would strip great old shows from TV’s past. This was where I finally got to see all of Star Trek (and by that I mean the original series — the only Star Trek worth watching) and where I got to visit old friends like The Addams Family and The Munsters and Gilligan and Batman again.