Monday, June 27, 2022

New Recording!: "Mary Black Mary Black Mary Black"

"Mary Black Mary Black Mary Black" is an old GoGoBots song and still fun to play. It's based on a common legend/prank for high schoolers or whatnot wherein one of them is dared to go into the bathroom alone and say the name of a local witch three times into the mirror.  They claim that if you do that, the witch will come out and scratch your face.   Well, you might scratch your face by bumping into something in the dark bathroom because you can't see, but nothing's going to come out of the mirror.  The legend seems to be some sort of projection of fear of any woman having agency in a patriarchal culture.  Team Fright also played this, and our buddies The Balomai Brothers sampled it for a song (I miss The BBs--maybe they'll pop up again some day).  It's been a staple of the solo set for years.  For this rerecording, I started with the drums instead of the guitar just to switch things up a bit.  The keyboard pipe organ sounded good for a spooky song, and it sounds like I had a bit of fun with the effects on the percussion and multiple vocals.  Otherwise, it's the usual vocals, drums, guitar, and keyboard as bass.  

A shoutout to The Tinnitist for including "Gang Of Foreigner" on a recent playlist.  Thanks again! 

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7"!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Monday, June 6, 2022

New Single!: Gang Of Foreigner

My dream radio station would be one where stuff like Foreigner was played right next to stuff like The Gang Of Four.  Just good tunes, regardless of the genre. This song was written in that spirit.  Thanks to Joe Biden for inspiring the first line.  Musically, it has the usual vocals (I played a lot with them), guitar, keyboard bass, and drums.  For the drums I played live drums and messed around with the keyboard preset drums.  The bit is the beginning is me beat-boxing and messing with some effects.  There is also some pipe organ in the background if you listen closely.

Lyrics are below:

Was Corn Pop a bad dude?
Please don't be so rude.
Better grow your own food.
And the government doesn't like your attitude.

But the pop song said love would last forever.

Classic rock zombies.
Subject to additional taxes and fees.
Don't be dumb and forget your smartkeys.
Hope you're doing well sleaze.
Stripmalls cutting down more trees.
Kurt Angle replaced both knees.
So afraid of a new disease,
they don't want you to say what you please.

And the friends in your head are the best friends ever!

Your social network is closed.
Genetically-modified cheery oats.
Spray the snitch with a hose.
Things aren't how you supposed.
The administration should be deposed.
I'd rather sniff a rose
then have a gun and kill my foes.
What if everybody just said no?

Thanks to The Tinnitist and Blind Hugo for their support of earlier songs!

For more Wred Fright music, listen to the Yeast? 7"!

And here's one last bonus Yeast?:

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Last Week For The Stack!

Last month on my Substack, I made fun of The View, hypocritical Democrats, golddiggers on dating apps, stupid yard signs, and Tim Ryan; drew a comic about buying Harvey Pekar an ice cream cone; and mourned my buddy Tim who I now realized died of Fauci.  If you missed all that or the earlier posts on The Stack, then I suggest you read them soon, as it will likely be deleted next week.  I am moving on to other projects and won't have time for it, and since there's nothing sadder than an unupdated website, it's closing time.  I had fun doing it, and I can see returning to Substack sometime as it's a cool platform.  Everything's free, and some will likely never be republished, so now's the time.

For more fun, please read my latest novel, Fast Guy Slows Down

And, for even more fun, here's some Yeast?:

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Excerpt From "Le Star" by James Nowlan

How does it really feel there under those lights in front of the camera?  Hot, uncomfortable, a bit like being on the stand as the witness to a heinous crime?  But they look happy and maybe they are.  Seems as though a lot of people dream of nothing but that and if you’ve gone through everything you have to go through to get there, get to this place where it is, that is the place that everyone is supposed to want to be, then you couldn’t admit to yourself that it wasn’t worth it; you’d have to force yourself to enjoy it or take whatever sort of substances necessary to help you to project a simulacra of joy.

The man on the stage, the halogens shining into his eyes so brightly that he could barely glimpse the audience, didn’t seem to need encouragement.  The expansiveness of his gestures and the extravagance of his facial expressions seemed to be desperately trying to seize the attention of a large studio audience and a continent-wide television public.  One could compare him to a desperate man lost at sea frantically signally at a passing ocean liner in the hope of at least one passenger remarking his flailing shouting form amongst the waves.  The strange color of his skin, a sort of boiled lobster red, might also bring to mind a shipwreck victim, but in his case this inflamed hue had been caused by various skin lightening and darkening agents that he had frequently resorted to in order to conform to the shade of ethnicity demanded by Internet announcers that he assiduously responded to, applying the bleaching cream or swallowing the suntan pills before even receiving an answer, believing that his very willingness to enter in the skin of the character would be felt by whomever it was that might be in charge of the casting and so increase his chances. His morphology contributed as much to the frantic image as his complexion.  Behind flabby jowls that trembled spasmodically an overly developed jaw was clenched.  Massively muscled arms hung alongside a belly that threatened to gush forth from the girdle that was holding it in check, evidence of serious hormonal imbalances provoked by years of abusing steroids that a studied eye would easily discern.

The language that he spoke, something like French or at least something that could be understood as such, in which lapses of grammar attempted to excuse themselves by misuse of argot added a fitting narration to the travesty of his appearance, a badly articulated commentary upon a ruined landscape that we would never wish to visit but might watch on the evening news fascinated by the devastation.  And like a hastily recruited native journalist he recounted a version of events that had more than a bit of bias.

“You don’t know me!  You don’t know what I’m capable of!  Me, I come from the street.  Bourgeois Bohemians like yourselves can’t understand.  I didn’t want to become a violent person; I was forced to.  I grew up amongst the chaos and had to learn to survive with it.  Most of my childhood friends killed someone or were killed by someone.  How many killers or murder victims do you know?  I’ve known too many, too many to ever become just a person like other persons, but by chance I’ve found this craft, acting, that has allowed me to channel my rage in another direction, so I won’t have to hurt anyone.”

This short speech finished, the lights dimmed and revealed that the speaker had been addressing an audience not at all equal to this dramatic revelation.  A group, who seemed to have been the sort who had spent to many years in college to be good for anything else, looked on.  A tall grimly thin individual in a black turtleneck sweater and beret who stood off to one side seemed to be in charge of things.  They looked away from the glare of Rudolph who was squinting against the light to discern their reaction and towards the man who had put him onstage.  Seeing him softly tap the tips of his fingers together in a gesture more like a children’s game than applause they imitated him.  This tiny sound was amplified by Rudolph’s ecstatic post performance revery into the first hint of an acclaim that would soon come thundering forth from a world that was not even capable of anticipating his greatness.  He began to clap as well, and the sound of his prodigious palms being driven together by his swollen biceps reverberated through the empty theatre where this sad conclusion of a pathetic acting seminar was happening.  He clapped louder and louder as if wanting to fill the seats with his enthusiasm quelling what little there was amongst the others who let their arms fall at their sides to watch him impassively as he gave himself an encore.  Glancing over at a monitor that happened to be set up he caught a glimpse of himself, a ludicrous figure with an undersized head thrust forward at the end of a large neck like a performing seal, and he fell silent, looking down at feet that shuffled back and forth trying to escape his embarrassed gaze.

To break this uncomfortable moment the professor stepped forward with a placating gesture, waving jazz hands trying to recapture the paltry energy that was even now dissipating he said, “Let’s do our motivational mantra.”  Robotically everyone made a circle that deformed as Rudolph approached, no one wanting to find themselves next to him holding his hand but at the same time wanting to hide their repugnance.  It even broke apart and came back together several times like a folk dance performed by foreigners ignorant of the social etiquette governing the exchange of partners but then the professor came like a native master and forced everyone into place and intoned by himself the first bar, which was then taken up by the others.

“Je serais riche, je serais célèbre, je serais aimé”, a refrain which caught the ears of some American tourists passing by on the street outside, following the itinerary of a trashy overmarketed best seller, and was taken to be the litany of an ancient cruelly depraved sect.  They stopped.  The garishly covered, overpriced, and flamboyantly written pulp thriller that was their murky guide to the city of light held psalmodical in their pudgy hands.  The tempo accelerated and chanting grew louder, “je serais riche, je serais célèbre, je serais aimé,” and they gazed at one another with bovine wonderment.  Not knowing what was being said they gave all sorts of arcane significance to these three short phrases, “I will be rich, I will be famous, I will be loved”, but if it might be translated for them would they recognize it as a sentiment having its origins in the same country as themselves or would they still refuse to accept its banality?  Inside, heedless now of any eavesdroppers of any language, the chant had taken on the throbbing intonation of a prop plane waiting to takeoff.


The low cultural tourists looked around themselves drugged by the strange energy emanating from the door.  The stone buildings blackened by pollution looked stained with evil and the press of passersby hurrying home to heat up a meal to eat before the evening news seemed animated by some awful force.  They hailed a taxi to flee to their familiar hotel room with the comfort of its mini-bar under a reassuring CNN voice and face beamed into the television by satellite.

In the dilapidated theatre that seldom hosted any more exciting performances or attracted a more enthralled crowd the departure of this audience was somehow sensed, and the bubble of the group’s enthusiasm burst to leave them looking blankly at each other.  Though they had all planned to go off somewhere together afterwards to discuss the months long course that had ended that night they couldn’t seem to conceive a strategy whereby the awkward presence of their cumbersome classmate could be avoided.  So, they hastily left with barely perceptible nods of farewell and the cartoonishly bloated principal player found himself alone with the director of the drama, whose last scene was now to be played to an empty theater.

Rudolph had been staring into the high seats with what he imagined was an expression of arrogant disdain in anticipation of being surely invited somewhere by the numerous admirers he was sure he had made.  So transfixed was he by the idea of the grandiose figure that he must have been making he didn’t even notice the departure of the other students until a harumph of the professor, who was curiously named Henri Ruisseau, brought his attention back to painful realization of his solitude.  But Henri at least seemed to be interested, he was certainly looking at Rudolph with an inquiring gaze and in anticipation of the flattering words that would soon be pronounced by the gazer he put his best attempt at a smile (he would have spent more time in front of the mirror practicing it but he wasn’t looking for smiling roles) onto his face.

But the lines that his instructor fed him were not at all what an extra with such a bit part merited “By the way you haven’t paid for the course yet.”

Since the script that he had already rehearsed in his head for several days, abundant praise and the offer of a role with persons more important than this teacher (the sort of person he been raised in contempt of), hadn’t been followed he was forced to improvise.  With an insolent tone he responded, “Well you know the welfare board they’re supposed to take care of that, you see this is part of my vocational rehabilitation.”

“The welfare board?” muttered the professor vaguely, as if it was an organism of an obscure faith whose beliefs he was unfamiliar with, “well I’ve heard nothing from them, never even heard that I should hear something from them. You see we’re showbusiness professionals not social workers.”

Rudolph was on the point of becoming threatening but this word “professional” gave him pause.  He had basically become a semi-professional welfare recipient because he had failed in his endeavors to become a professional of violent crime.  His failures in this domain shamed him still.  By an unusual series of events he had come or perhaps been encouraged to see the opportunity of portraying violent criminals who appeared much more successful in their violence and their criminality than he had ever been as a sort of compensation.  So, he was at a loss until looking around him he found inspiration.  “And you, mister professor, you think you’re a real professional here in your empty theater?”

Rudolph had expected either aggressive arrogance or cowed abasement in response but the professor, rather like a ninja in a martial arts film that the aspiring actor was very inspired by, seemed to cloud the thoughts of his opponent with a so sudden change of identity that it warped the spirit.  Pacing off in a circle, his hands held before him their fingers splayed in a frozen jest he intoned a murmur that recalled the mantra of the group.  “I was a professional, or what they call a professional because I knew the people that one has to know to be called a professional but something happened something too terrible to speak of, a sort of vengeance of the divine Dionysiac forces through my excess and now I’m condemned to perform paltry pieces of works to no audience.”

Rudolph gave him the contemptuous smirk that he held in reserve as the parting response to any who he felt held nothing more of interest to him and he strode away giving a kick to a stray chair that had the misfortune to find itself in his path.  He was going to slam the heavy door with no backward glance but for some reason believing that the professor must have been watching his departure with some disappointment he looked over his shoulder before slinging the door shut to see the professor standing in a ray of light that the sun had contrived to shine down upon him through a shutter that had been left open.  The darkly clad man appeared to be a disembodied head floating in space staring off into the void.

This vision continued to haunt Rudolph on his long train ride out to the housing project that he inhabited.  The faces on the commuters all seemed to know things that he would never understand.  He was relieved to finally get home and turn on his television, the most luxurious element in his home that he had only been able to buy when the social services department had accidentally sent him an extra check.  Its expensive light seemed to chase away the dreariness of his life and the squalor of his surroundings.  And as often happens the television was by chance tuned to a program that might have been made just for him.

The high-tech screen displayed the image of an industrial building from another age, the terrible teeth of its jagged roof biting its final morsels from a sky that it would soon no longer touch ever again, and the cheerfully designed title of the emission "Star Factory" that was to lead the postindustrial audience into a brighter future.  The robotized camera which was capturing this panned vertiginously down and to the right to reveal the host of the show who was actually having trouble hiding his distaste for the proceedings but the pained look upon his face would be interpreted as a sort of empathy by thousands of viewers more or less like Rudolph (but hopefully very few as like Rudolph as Rudolph was like Rudolph).  As the camera zoomed in, the assistant director cued him to speak, and he detached his lips which seemed stuck together with some invisible glutinous substance.  "Welcome dear viewers to a spectacle that will surely expand your vision of this world we all live in together".  The pursing of the lips and squinting of the eyes that was provoked by the idea of his being "together" with the filthy repugnant mass of mindlessly drooling spectators provoked for some reason a sort of infantile response similar to that many of them had felt when their parents stared down at them in their crib and they hesitated to change the channel.  A spectacle so perverse that a sane mind would find it more reasonable to go out in the street and start randomly shooting people than continue watching was to be presented for their edification.

Star Factory had been conceived by a strange cocktail of factors that had coalesced in divergent sundry and sordid locations to give birth to a strange hybrid: an industrial restructuring program and a top-rated TV show in one.  The bizarre liaisons that had led to such brutally banal product being put on the market (that ranged from perverse acts in cheap hotels and nightclub toilets to hushed discussions between highly paid corporate lawyers in corner offices) were known to few and better forgotten by everyone.  And now the unfortunate host (or rather fortunate considering his salary) was trying to peddle it to the public like a meth-whore back on the sidewalk after just having turned a quick trick.

As described in voice by him and artfully illustrated by a series of expertly edited images, the soon to be laid off workers of the sinister factory he was standing before had been presented a proposition that would open an undreamed-of world of opportunity for them.  Instead of continuing in their dreary repetitive tasks, they had been given the chance to become stars!  Yes, experts of the entertainment industry were now teaching them to sing and dance and they would soon be on stage before the world or at least the French television audience.  Those whom destiny had chosen to be stars would be propelled to the stratosphere, their image beamed by satellite around the world, not much mention was made of the fate of the rest but one would imagine a badly paid service job, limited health care, and a miserable life.

Some stray synapse (he had quite a few of these having had an eventful life and many of the events of it having been cerebral [not in the sense of intellectual but more of blunt trauma induced brain damage]) made his finger twitch upon the control button and switch to a news program that was being watched at the same time by his recently ex-drama teacher in his even dingier apartment in a rapidly gentrifying quarter of Paris.

Henri Ruisseau always watched the evening news in hope of hearing of something nasty business having happened to the well-known individuals that he had once frequented and he felt had betrayed him.  By some coincidence, or perhaps a tactic of counter programming the news was presenting the same scene as the entertainment program but from a slightly different perspective.  The aging factory where the improbable reality show was to take place looked even grimmer in the background behind the rusting spike-topped gates.  A ragtag group of sign waving protestors was assembled before these gates the color level settings in the video processing computer of the remote news van investing their faces with a ruddy hue which made them look as if they had been drinking more than they had been.  As the camera zoomed in on the leader of the group a technician cranked up the red level till the face on his monitor glowed and the union representative’s image almost bled into a blur as he started to speak.

“It’s all a hoax!  The winners of this competition were chosen in advance.  They didn’t know how to do their jobs but they were hired anyway.  Afterwards I caught them several times singing and dancing in the toilets.  I thought it was some sort of kinky stuff I’d never heard of.  When they announced this goofy restructuring program I knew right away what it was.  None of us who’s been really working at this factory for years has got any chance of becoming a 'STAR' anyway I think the idea of becoming a star is completely stupid they’re all a bunch of bisexual scientologists or something it’s probably being promoted by some kind of crypto-royalists to stupefy people to the point where they’ll accept anything.”

James Nowlan is the author of the novels Security, Killebrity, and Shock And Awe.  He is also a filmmaker, and I am quite happy to feature his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

And here's some bonus Yeast? for James and you!:

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

New Recording!: "Why Honey Sings"

"Why Honey Sings" was one of the early Wred Fright solo songs when I was releasing a song a month on the Internet.  It and "The Calling" are the only ones I still play.  Even though it was written first, it can be viewed as a companion piece to "Hey, Honey!" with that song being the before or happy stage of a relationship and "Why Honey Sings" being the after or unhappy stage of a relationship.  For this rerecording, I sang and played the usual guitar, keyboard bass, and drums.  My son wanted to play tin whistle on it, but plain tin whistle didn't fit the song, so I played with it and made it a nifty sort of subway train screech.  This is yet another track from the What's Your Flow Setting, Baby? album.  Thanks to The Tinnitist for adding last week's single, "Sheridan Market", to his playlist:  

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7"!

And speaking of Yeast? . . .

Friday, May 20, 2022

drinkdrankdrunk: "Ship Of Fools" by The Midnight Rider

even though the campus is closing, we still had faculty workshop week . . . in the old days that would equate to the various departments bragging about their relevance, 12 home-office douchebags from kalifornia giving human resources ted-talks and the lesbian nun doing a 2nd (completely unnecessary) roll call . . . from 2006-2010, the workshops were held at a swanky resort on the mississippi river in illinois--complete with golf outings and lobster dinners . . . in 2011-2012, the corporation flew the entire campus out to kalifornia to stay at a 5 star resort on an island--there were luaus on the beach, bands, and open bars . . . in 2013-2014, the workshops were on campus, and we got coach’s water and a gift bag (pencils and mints) that the book store lady graciously donated out of her own pocket . . . in 2015, there was absolutely nothing . . . of course, the lesbian nun still took roll, and there was one webinar on domestic violence . . . a lot of the faculty were absent, and the ones that did show wore shorts, hawaiian shirts, and didn’t shave . . . when the provost-from-kalifornia opened up the meeting for faculty questions/comments, there were threatened lawsuits and conspiracy theories that shady state’s “10 year plan” was designed to have our campus go bankrupt at the end of that 10 year period . . . the psych professor spoke up and complained that it felt like he had been “slapped in the face by the organization,” and the math professor screamed that he needed assurances that “the front gate wouldn’t be padlocked” when he drove in to work the following monday . . . there were also audible groans from the crowd as the provost assured us that we would be paid through august 2017 . . . she said that the powers-that-be were working on a severance package (2 weeks' pay for every year the employee had been with the company), but that was met with shouts of “i’ll believe it when i see it” and “fraud” . . . of course, there were still a few brownnosers who choked back tears as they thanked the provost for “the best job that they’ll ever have,” but overall the mood was tense and potentially violent . . . hot lips houlihan (the education dean who was conveniently sitting next to the provost) stood up and told us that if “we continued to shoot for the moon, we could still land in the stars” while lil’ frank burns (the tiny, cowboy-booted science dean) pounded on the table and told the faculty that it was “time for us to sink or swim” . . . the first (company-endorsed) speaker of the week was a retired, education professor whose son had died in a car accident--he told stories about how he dealt with his son’s death and stressed that we needed (biblical) grace to finish up strong for our students . . . on the second day, i intentionally sat behind the provost and tried to read over her shoulder as she texted--unfortunately i couldn’t read what she was writing, so i started wondering if anyone would come to her defense if i tried to snap her neck (and sadly they would because saving her would be the key to a phat new job for the pack of born-again-christians on my left) . . . most of the domestic violence webinar dealt with campus protocol, and it made me reflect on the 2 most serious issues i’ve encountered during my 9-year-tenure at shady state . . . while meeting with one of my female advisees last spring, i noticed that jessica was shaking and that she had bruises running up and down both arms . . . i asked her what was wrong, and she immediately started crying and said that her boyfriend had beaten her . . . i had met her boyfriend at a halloween party at their house the year before, and i knew what he was like . . . i also knew that their primary source of income was the meth lab in their garage . . . and i know what the human resources manual says about students being abused and teachers reporting domestic violence, but if i had reported it, they would have both been arrested and a perfectly good meth lab would have been destroyed . . . i gave jessica water and a granola bar and told her that i was real sorry . . . i also gave her a 10/10 on her homework--what else do you want me to do, man?--we’re at shady state, usa . . . the 2nd human resources near-incident occurred in my african-american lit class 3 years ago . . . a white countrygirl from iowa and a fat/gay/black dude from chicago had been jawing at each other all semester, and their beef finally came to a head when she screamed at him to shut up because she couldn’t hear what i was saying . . . this was at the beginning of class while the attendance sheet was still going around, and the gay kid wrote that he “was from chicago and would cut her if she didn’t shut the fuck up” . . . mercifully, the roster made its way back to me without anyone noticing/taking a picture of it, and i immediately broke out the whiteout when i returned to my office (and before turning it in to the registrar’s office) . . . i didn’t think much of it at the time, but that could have led to a major incident if the roster had fallen into the wrong hands (namely the nazi-cum-registrar) . . . the girl could have sued, and the dude could have been expelled or arrested . . . flash-forward to 2015:  the girl-in-question goes to my gym, and i was talking to her one day last fall when the dude-in-question sashayed into the yogurt shop across the street . . . without missing a beat, she looked at me and mouthed “little faggot” before continuing her story about where she had gotten drunk the night before . . . oh, i guess i should finish my story about faculty workshop week . . . one of the born-again christians cried on wednesday and had to leave the room, the lesbian nuns announced that the 8 professors (i counted 10) who missed the webinar would have to re-watch the presentation online, and the music professor picked his nose in public 13 times over the course of 4 days--i guess in times-like-these, there’s something to be said for consistency

The Midnight Rider prefers to remain mysterious.  You could visit his website, but he won't say where it is.  You could read his books, but he won't say what they are.  You could email him, but I'm pretty sure is not a real email address.  In a world where everyone is repping their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, sex tapes, line of clothing, new microbrew, virus panic vaccine status, and overall brand, I find that refreshing.  I am happy to have The Rider ride on drinkdrankdrunk.  

And, here's some bonus Yeast? for The Rider and you!: