Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cool Yule 2013!

Well, we've nearly made it through another year.  As Opus demonstrates in the picture, it's time to celebrate that fact by stuffing ice cubes down our underwear.

Hmm . . . since I'm not a penguin, maybe I'll just drink some eggnog instead.  I wish you a cool Yule however you choose to celebrate the season and cheer yourself up as the days grow shorter in the Northern Hemisphere*!

*Within reason, of course, please don't do anything too crazy such as chopping down a tree to celebrate life

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Song: "Hey Honey"

I liked a little shoegazey guitar riff I came up with and wrote some lyrics to it.  You can check out the MP3 here.  For the recording, I enjoyed experimenting with a pen and paper as percussion.  There's even a guitar solo.  Really, this stuff is much more fun and cheaper than therapy.  The lyrics are below.  It's the same deal as always.  If you like a song, then feel free to cover it if you're in a band or whatnot.  I love to hear covers of my songs, so please let me know about your version.  If you start making money, then send me a check/we can work out a deal.  Similarly, if you want to use a song for your Youtube video or whatnot, then just let me know.  It's usually fine by me unless it's a commercial product or whatnot.  Find out first though.  Write me at wredfright ATATAT yahoo DOTT com.

Some terrorist blew up the bus today so I had to find another way home
I decided to walk and as I did I wrote you a little poem
It started as a haiku and ended an epic; I had so many nice things to say
I hope that wherever you are that you're having a really good day

Hey Honey!

When I got home I couldn't find a pencil, so I just had to use a pen
I inked line after line about how glad I was that you were my friend
I think it's great, but The New Yorker probably isn't going to be publishing it
But that's ok because the real talk of the town is how we're such a perfect fit

Written August 2013
Recorded August 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fun With Panning

One fine day this summer, I wanted to fool with remixing, so I took a song I had recently recorded, "End Of Our Youth", and started doing some hard panning of the various tracks in the recording from right to left speaker and back again.  I liked the results, but agree with those who think that hard panning is mainly just losing half the acoustic energy of the recording.  The final result ended up sounding a bit like Nine Inch Nails trying to play dub reggae or something, which was a bit surprising.  I still prefer the original mix myself.  I hope that you enjoy the experiment below; it probably won't be repeated, but it was fun:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Song: "The End Of Our Youth"

I felt like writing a Husker Du/Leatherface type of bitter punk rock love song.  It was fun.  You can check out the MP3 here.  I play guitar and sing on it.  I also add a heap of feedback and smack a plastic bin and a snare drum for the beat (I think.  I recorded it this summer, so I don't entirely remember now).  Really, this stuff is much more fun and cheaper than therapy.  The lyrics are below.  It's the same deal as always.  If you like a song, then feel free to cover it if you're in a band or whatnot.  I love to hear covers of my songs, so please let me know about your version.  If you start making money, then send me a check/we can work out a deal.  Similarly, if you want to use a song for your Youtube video or whatnot, then just let me know.  It's usually fine by me unless it's a commercial product or whatnot.  Find out first though.  Write me at wredfright ATATAT yahoo DOTT com.

Your picture came up on the computer screensaver slideshow today
I thought I had deleted them all, but this one had gotten away
So I started thinking of you which I hadn't done in quite a while
And the last time I saw you was the day of our trial
That was the day it ended, but I remembered how it began
You seemed so sweet then; I really thought that you were my friend
Now if an economist ever had to explain to me opportunity cost
Your picture would be all it would take to tell me what I lost

It was the end of our youth
We were just waiting around to die
It was the end of our youth
Happily ever after was our favorite lie

And lying was apparently one of your favorite things to do
You told me that you graduated from college; you never even went, did you?
And you never told me about your trouble with embezzlement
If I had known about that, things wouldn't have gone as far as they went
Even so, I should have known better and dropped you long ago
I still believed in all that 'til death do us part bullshit though
I can't say that you ruined my life since I did that myself
But you sure stole some of my health and my wealth

And I wonder where you are tonight
And I wonder where you are tonight
And I wonder whose life you're ruining tonight
And I wonder why I wonder

And it's a wonder that we were ever together at all
And if I'm lucky, from you, I will never get another call
But I don't think that I'll delete that photograph
I might need a reminder, even if it hurts to laugh
At how stupid I was; But I made a mistake and I corrected it
So if memory ever tries to paint a happy portrait, then I can get it to quit
I can just look at this picture and remember all those crazy days
And how after you were gone my life got better in so many ways

Written July 2012
Recorded August 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Calling All Steampunks!

Every once in a while, I heave a book that I haven't written onto Amazon.Com.  This time, it's a science fiction anthology called Steampunk III:  Steampunk Revolution.  It has some familiar writers in it such as Lev Grossman, Nick Mamatas, Bruce Sterling, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Christopher Barzak, and Catherynne M. Valente.  I'm not as familiar with the other ones.  I bought the book secondhand, but it doesn't appear to have been read.  I haven't read it either.  Perhaps it is waiting for you.  Right now, I have the cheapest price on Amazon, but I suspect it's only a matter of seconds before the algorithms start cranking and the guy trying to sell it for $799.00 will figure out that no one will buy that copy when I'm offering one for $5.99 plus shipping (the $799.00 dude wants you to pay for shipping as well; one would think at that price that the shipping could be thrown in).  Someone will have to explain to me the insane pricing strategies of some of the people selling on Amazon.  Will some demented rich person only buy a book if it's priced in the hundreds of dollars?  If so, I'm missing out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yip!*: Citizens For Legitimate Government

A few years ago, an email newsletter popped up in my inbox. It looked like something my character Francine Apple from Blog Love Omega Glee would make.  Each edition would have a list of linked news articles with sarcastic commentary mixed in with the headlines and articles.  The prevailing political attitude was one of skepticism and paranoia about anything a government official said.

I loved it.

It made for a nice counterbalance to the disgusting gullibility and reverence for the status quo (especially the rich and powerful) that runs through most of the mainstream media.  I mean I appreciate the mainstream media, but if they were all I had to choose from as sources for information, then I'd feel as if I were living in the fictional world of Orwell's 1984.

So thank goodness for the Citizens For Legitimate Government (CLG) newsletter!  It helps me maintain a balanced media diet, which is very important when my country's elected leader is trying to whip up some war hysteria so he and his rich friends can get even richer (if you want to know what the proposed military intervention in Syria is really about, read the code in the words "chemical weapons" by dropping out all the other letters except for "o", "i", and "l" and then use them to spell a common word in English--my feelings about the USA getting further involved in the Syrian conflict are fairly similar to David Stockman's, who also regards it as a foolish pursuit).

CLG can be characterized as being written by conspiracy theorists, but that's refreshing when so much of mainstream journalism is written by imperialist lapdogs.  When someone is asking you to spend your money and time to kill people you don't know, your default answer should be no and not yes, and that's the way it is in every edition of CLG

 *Yips are good things.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rare Alan Moore Books

I've been on an Alan Moore reading kick lately, tracking down a few oddball titles I've never read.  I just finished Neonomicon, Seven Deadly Sins, and Outrageous Tales From The Old Testament, the last two of which I've just put up for sale on eBay (I don't hang on to many books these days--my packrat/hoarder era is in the past).  Seven Deadly Sins and Outrageous Tales From The Old Testament are anthologies with Moore only having a chapter in each (Neil Gaiman and some other comics notables also contribute to the anthologies, which were published by Knockabout in the late 1980s and are hard to find now, being a bit rare), but, as with most of Moore's work, they made for enjoyable reading.  Next up is The Forty-Niners!  In fact, I think I'll end this blog post early and get back to reading!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Anal Spikemobile

Well, I promised/threatened/warned (take your pick) you.  As the grand finale to my little cassettes project wherein I rooted through a box of cassettes while salvaging a few tracks before giving them the old heave-ho, here are the complete recordings of Anal Spikemobile.  I'm calling it the In Through The Out Hole (Full Body Cavity Search Edition)In Through The Out Hole was the only proper album the band made, and I've attached a couple of other random tracks by the band to fill it out.  In Through The Out Hole was released (supposedly released--I never got a copy) as a cassette on Black Egypt Records in 1994.  Our pals in The Plague Dogs ran this little indie label, and In Through The Out Hole arrived just in time to kill it apparently.  Dave and I recorded this album in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina USA while hanging out with our pal Jen in March of 1994.  We had fun.  When we got back from South Carolina, Dave played a bit more around with it, and it was done.  For legal reasons, I better not add anything else.  In any case, it's better to leave the Spikemobile shrouded in mystery.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Yip!*: Cathal Coughlan

The Adventures of Flannery from Jessica Fuller on Vimeo.

I was delighted to stumble across a film about the singer-songwriter Cathal Coughlan the other day. What's even more amazing than the fact that there is a film about Coughlan is the fact that it's free to watch online (I hope it's not a bootleg upload, but since it's been up for three years, presumably the filmmakers would have noticed by now; the film appears to have been funded by the Irish taxpayer, so thank you Irish taxpayers!).  It provides a nice overview of Coughlan's music career up to 2006 or whenever it was filmed, but mainly focuses on a musical project he was putting on then in his hometown of Cork, Ireland.

I first discovered Coughlan's work through his band The Fatima Mansions, particularly the great Viva Dead Ponies album.  For years, I thought the band had only released two albums, Ponies and Lost In The Former West, but that's apparently only because those were their main American releases.  In the U.K., they had a couple more, which I managed to track down years later.  I also stumbled across an ep I never knew existed last year while browsing in a Los Angeles thrift store.  I've also enjoyed his work in his earlier band Microdisney and his current solo work (though it appears that he has more solo albums than have been released in the USA--I hope an American label will release them someday before I break down and pay import prices; fortunately, his latest project, the band North Sea Scrolls, is available here).

If I ever play live again, I'd like to cover "Pack Of Lies" by the Mansions.  I've worked out a nice arrangement for it.  It's a great, venomous song and encapsulates modern life well with all the leaders lying but still expecting to be treated with respect.  Coughlan's work is often very rooted in life in the U.K. (he emigrated to London decades ago), so it can be a bit challenging for American listeners (which probably explains why many of his records have gone unreleased here) but the songs are so great that they're still enjoyable even if one doesn't understand entirely all the allusions and references in the lyrics.

If Coughlin or any of his fans want to trade a record I don't have for a copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus or something, then please get in touch (contact info's in the upper right or just comment here and leave your contact info--none of that Facebook or Twitter address garbage though; email, folks!--just disguise it like I do if you have to avoid the spammers).   

 *Yips are good things.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Great? Lost? Yeast? Song?

While going through the old cassettes, I found a few Yeast? ones.  Yeast? was one of my old bands and released a couple of 7" singles in the 1990s (one of which apparently made it to Northern Ireland, where it's now for sale on eBay).  The band started as just a solo project called Yeast (the question mark was added after we discovered there was already a band called Yeast on C/Z Records; we had already been using the name and no one else in our area seemed to have ever heard of the other band anyway--apparently it was a popular name for a band).  Dave from The Angry Housewives helped me record a few songs on his four-track, and the project later evolved into a band when Dave and our Lenin Spoonful buddy Damon joined in on the music.  We also picked up another guitar player named Chris since I was still getting the hang of the whole play guitar and sing thing and Chris could cover me if I flubbed anything.  Mainly, the band performed songs I wrote, but the others occasionally brought in a song, and we even jammed up something together once in a while.  We played around Ohio and Pennsylvania USA in the early 1990s for a few years, but, by the end, the four members of the band were all living in different cities (Chris had left before the first 7" and we forged ahead as a power-trio for awhile, then added our pal Drew from Pogeybait for the tail end of the band) and the logistics just got too hard to manage, so we called it a day by playing a last show in Akron in 1995.  A few years later, I made a cd-r retrospective of the band and fit our best stuff on it.  I left out "Happy Tears" though, much to Damon's dismay, who always liked the song.  We only recorded it once, for a demo tape we used to get gigs at local bars.  It was one of the earliest songs we played as a band, but as we got better songs, some of the early ones dropped out of the repertoire.  "Happy Tears" was one of them.  It was written about a comment that Michael Jackson made about how he cried "happy tears" (Jackson seems to have used the phrase in the song "Heal The World" as well).  This version of the song features the original quartet of Yeast?  It might not have made the cd, but, hey, it's on the Internet now.  That's not bad considering that the rest of the cassette's tracks are going to the landfill.  Don't cry though.  Everything ultimately does.  At least it was fun though, so if you must cry, please cry happy tears.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Assault Rifles And Cheap Beer

The third and final track by The Flaming Toasters is "Assault Rifles And Cheap Beer".  Daiv played guitar on it.  He was a lot better guitarist than I was at the time and probably still is.  I played bass, and Jeff kept the beat.  I'm pretty sure Daiv wrote the music, but this might have been something we worked up while jamming.  The lyrics likely came from me.  It's possible that we passed around a notebook Lenin Spoonful style, but the use of words in the verses such as "George Bush", "New World Order", "sniff", "tush", "defenestration", and "Boone's Farm" makes me think I probably wrote them.  The song's theme seems to be men who like bush in a number of senses such as women, hunting, and beer (Busch) and voted for Bush for president since his name encapsulated all of their favorite things.  It's a little scary that the song is as reflective of America in 2013 as it was in 1991.  Those same folks will probably be voting for Jeb Bush in 2016 for similar reasons.  This is a fun song.  Only The Flaming Toasters ever did it though, unless Daiv or Jeff used it in another band down the road that I didn't know about.  With only a couple exceptions, I tended to stick to songs I completely wrote.  I also probably wouldn't have done the song because of the word "bastards" in the chorus (Daiv maybe had the chorus lyrics already, but not the verses lyrics); though the word is used to denote a bad person, it literally means a child whose parents weren't married.  It's one of those stupid swear words (most are when one thinks of it); how is it the kid's fault what the parents did?  Moving on, I'm pleased that we actually end the song right so apparently we were getting better (just in time to quit as a band--nothing like going out on top).  The laughter at the end of the track is probably from some friends of ours hanging out with us at the time.  Playing in is apparently the closest we ever got to playing out.  The line that encapsulates the Toasters best is Daiv asking at the end of "Candle", "Is there any more beer?"  It was a fun little band where practice was like a party.  It's not too surprising then that we didn't do much else.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Witch Kraft

The second Flaming Toasters track is a song called "Witch Kraft".  It's inspired by the same events that inspired parts of the first couple of chapters of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus.  I titled it "Witch Kraft" because the witch was very fond of boxed macaroni and cheese (in Canada, the Kraft version of which is just called Kraft Dinner for some strange reason).  Her status as a witch was also quite cheesy.  If she was a Wiccan, then she wasn't too interested in nature.  Basically, she sat around the house a group of us college students shared and did nothing but watch cable television all day in a bathrobe that got dirtier each day.  If she was into more occult stuff, then I'm not quite sure what spells she was casting, but they weren't quite working for she seemed quite bored and depressed most of the time.  After not paying the rent for a couple of months and eating our food (especially mac and cheese), she dropped out of college to move to Germany to marry some guy in the American army.  Some of the lyrics are things verbatim that she said.  Not quite a muse, she was still entertaining enough of a character to inspire some art.  However, this song never really made it past The Flaming Toasters, who were the only ones to ever play and record it.  I liked it well enough, but I soon wrote better ones, so it got left unplayed.  On this track, I don't know who's doing the cheesy witch voices (these parts aren't quotes from the real witch, just some silliness).  It might be me or Daiv.  I don't think it's Jeff, but who knows?  Not me.  And, as usual, it has the Toasters quality of not knowing exactly when to end 

I've enjoyed going through these old cassettes.  I encourage others to dig out the recordings of their old bands and digitize some of the better moments for us to enjoy in this internet age.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Flaming Toasters

While going through a box of old cassettes, I came across one by The Flaming Toasters.  The Toasters is an old band of mine.  I was in The Escaped Fetal Pigs and a couple of other bands at the time, and the other members of the Toasters, Daiv and Jeff, played in a band called Pogeybait.  We would get together to form the Toasters whenever our other bands weren't busy, which wasn't often.  Ultimately, we never even played out, if I remember correctly, but we had fun playing at practice, though since we never played out I don't know what exactly we were practicing for, but presumably we intended to eventually play out.

The cassette I found has three songs on it recorded on a cold winter night in Bowling Green, Ohio USA in December 1991.  The first of the songs is "Candle", a song the Pigs also did.  I wrote it, and it was one of the first songs I wrote on guitar.  I was just getting the hang of singing and playing guitar at the time, so the Toasters were a nice way of developing that tandem skill.  Daiv typically played bass, but we would switch instruments occasionally.  Jeff played drums.  We probably did "Candle" since Pogeybait liked the song so much that they wrote new lyrics to it and called it "The Aliens Are Here" so they were familiar with it.  On the other hand, maybe Pogeybait didn't borrow the melody until after I taught it to Daiv and Jeff.  It's been so long that I don't remember the precise timeline, just that at some point the Pogeybaiters borrowed the song and I was equal parts pleased and irritated.

I wrote "Candle" in 1991 or so after reading a newspaper article about an elderly man who killed his wife because she was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and he didn't want her to suffer.  The Pigs played it, and I usually just sang, leaving the guitar parts to Mark Justice.  I next took it to Yeast? where I sang and played guitar on it.  The GoGoBots never did it, probably because we did primarily newer songs, though a few later Yeast? songs which didn't get much attention then got played by us.  When I did a "greatest hits" bit solo a few years later, I started playing it again, and, as a result, Team Fright also played it.  It's a catchy song, though a little too emo for my taste these days.  I'm still fond of it though.  The Toasters version goes on a bit too long, probably because we hadn't worked out a good ending yet.

The Flaming Toasters is a pretty good name for a rock band, so it's not surprising that other bands have also used it such as these guys.  Not everyone agrees that it's a good name though:  these folks debate the issue. You can decide for yourself while listening to "Candle".

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Patching The Gap: From Zines To Ezines

While doing some routine maintenance on the website, I discovered that the .pdf Chip Rowe made a decade or so ago of my dissertation, From Zines To Ezines:  Electronic Publishing And The Literary Underground, had disappeared from Zinebook.Com.  Chip will no doubt rectify matters when he does his routine maintenance, but, in the meantime, I thought I'd patch the gap by posting the .pdf (623 KB) here.  It is up at Scribd, thanks to Jose Angel Abril (who I'm not sure I know, but might have been one of the many zine scholars who's contacted me over the years), but the Scribders seem to want people to log in to read it (I've embedded it below as another way of avoiding the login), so this skips that hassle.  The dissertation was done to help people like this guy, that guy, this other guy, and that other guy, all citations that I haven't encountered before.  I'm glad the thing is still helpful.  So here it is again.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blog Love Omega Glee Even More Available Now!

Blog Love Omega Glee, my dystopian comedic novel, is now officially available for the Nook.  Unofficially, it's been available for the Nook for a couple of years now (a reader just had to download the .epub version of the novel to a computer and load it onto the Nook from there--the Nook actually was the ebook format I tested the coding of the novel on and how I read it myself), but this is the first time it's been officially listed on the Barnes & Noble website.  It has popped up because I finally managed to code the novel to the complete satisfaction of Smashwords, and they put it in their premium catalog, making the novel available at numerous ebook retailers.  So, the novel's probably available lots of places where people buy ebooks.  I don't know them all though since I seldom read ebooks myself (yes, that's ironic, but since the library's free and I don't need to plug in a paperback, I usually roll with print still--the ebooks I do read are ones like B.L.O.G., which are only available in that format or unavailable from the library and an ebook is the most affordable format).

The publishing journey for this novel has been an interesting one.  I first serialized it on this website, then I collected it as an ebook and published it on a pay what you want direct download model.  Since I noticed that many ebook readers (humans, not Kindles or whatnot) seemed most comfortable downloading books from Amazon and other ebook retailers to their ebook readers (Kindles and whatnot, not humans) rather than directly from an author via the Web, I adapted the coding to have the book published in those venues.  Despite the .epub coding being fine, this process was almost always a pain since it seems most retailers assume self-publishers are idiots.  Thus, they seem to set their systems up for people who upload Word files for conversion.  If you upload a full-fledged .epub (which is not hard; it's basically a fancy set of webpages), then one has to fiddle a bit with the coding so the text displays correctly in that retailer's format.

Frankly, from the sample I saw on BN.Com, B.L.O.G. could look better (the blank line spaces between paragraphs seem to have disappeared), but Smashwords did the conversion for BN and the rest of the known ebook retailer universe, so don't blame me (you can blame me for the Kindle version, since I did that, but from what I've seen, it looks right, as does the direct from Smashwords version I created).  If you're a Nook reader, you're probably still better off just downloading the pay what you want .epub and adding it to your Nook.  However, I'm happy that the novel is now even more available than ever.  Maybe someday it will even be available in print, but, with more and more bookstores closing each year, that's probably a pipe dream.

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Last Angry Housewife For The Road

The final track of Galgenhumor is fairly quiet when compared with the rest.  The Angry Housewives had apparently calmed down a bit.  It does have a nice drum beat though.  Some hip-hopper should loop it and rap over it.  The good news is that I'm all out of Angry Housewives tracks to upload.  The bad news is that I just digitized some Anal Spikemobile tracks today.  Hmm . . . we'll see.

Friday, July 19, 2013

There's Nothing Wrong With Your Speakers . . .

. . . it's supposed to sound like that. Yes, it's the penultimate track from Galgenhumor by the Angry Housewives, and, as usual, it's really strange, like The Monkees on acid or something.  Wait!  The Monkees were on acid, weren't they, at some point?  Better make that like some monkeys on acid.  Enjoy?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Music Of The Future Now

Someday, music will get weirder.  Young people will embrace it because it speaks to them and it irritates their elders.  Maybe someday it'll sound like this thing, a track by the Angry Housewives from Galgenhumor in 1990, remixed for the future today.  It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some Sort Of Chant

I have no idea what we're chanting here in this next Angry Housewives track, but I can assure you that no animals were sacrificed during the recording.  After that, it looks like we liked the rocket countdown sound effect well enough to use it again and mix it with some classic rock and roll.  Believe or not, this track is lots more normal sounding than the next couple.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sirens And Gunshots

This track sees (hears?) the Angry Housewives dig deeper into the sound effects record for some sirens and gunshots. You also get to hear me say "Thanks, man" a couple of times and Dave ask me a question.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

This next track of Galgenhumor shows the Angry Housewives getting into reggae and rocket countdowns.  The rocket countdown, of course, comes from the trusty library sound effect record.  I'm not sure where the reggae comes from, but we match it with some rusty Spanish by chanting "Mi casa es su casa", which translates to "My house is your house", fitting for a housewife band.  This track also features some backwards singing from me, and somebody playing harmonica, probably me (I'm impressed that whoever it was could play harmonica and another instrument at the same time as I doubt we had one of those harmonica stands Bob Dylan is fond of and we didn't do multitracking from what I recall).  As usual, this is a strange piece of music.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Is That Sound?

On this track, the Angry Housewives get a groove going only to be interrupted by . . . well, I'm not sure what that sound is.  Maybe an engine backfiring?  Someone farting?  Someone flapping his lips really quickly?  A deck of cards being shuffled loudly?  With the Housewives, one can never tell, and I don't remember.  Other than that, it's the usual noisy guitar and beating on pots and pans.  And just like you probably, I have no idea what the hell we're screaming either.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seviwesuoh Yrgna

On this track, the Angry Housewives sound a bit different, almost like we're playing classic rock backwards.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Perry Farrell?

I talked with Dave recently, and he says that Galgenhumor actually did have a cassette insert.  For some reason Dave doesn't remember (I didn't even remember the album had artwork), Perry Farrell was on the cover.  We both liked Jane's Addiction, but it's still odd we would put a picture of Farrell on the cover (maybe we thought he looked like an angry housewife--he did a lot back then).  I doubt we made many copies of the tape.  We probably just gave some to friends, and maybe I tried selling a couple at Madhatter Music, a cool record store that sold local band stuff on consignment, in Bowling Green, Ohio USA.  Maybe we sent a copy to Farrell in hopes of getting signed to a record label, and he was on the cover to flatter him, but I doubt we were ever that delusional about the appeal of this crazy music.  We just had fun playing it.  Posting these tracks on the blog probably gives them their widest exposure ever; distributing music is a lot easier in the era of the Internet.  Of course, since pretty much every musician does that, it's just as hard to get listeners as it probably was back then; still, for that aspect, I prefer now to then.  Anyway, this next track continues the "Oh, close the door please" motif from the last couple of tracks with its repetition of "Thank you".  Dave used to take the raw recordings home and mess with them on a synthesizer or something.  Other than the electric guitar, which I usually played, he handled the fancy musical equipment.  I played things like the horn on this track, which was useful since we got a little cowpunk in the middle (the Dave Bell in the image, however, is not the same Dave here; Dave did not go on to have a country music career, though it no doubt would have been an interesting one if he did).  I was a big fan of Walt Kelly's Pogo, so that's likely why I say "Pogo" here.  Based on the end, it sounds like we were revving up to try our hands at a rock and roll classic; of course, we had to add a jackhammer to it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More Galgenhumor

This second bit of Galgenhumor finds the Angry Housewives utilizing a sound effects record Dave got from the library (I think; I don't remember every detail from 1990).  On this track, you can hear seals and ping pong.  Dave's playing drums (pots and pans mainly) and I'm playing guitar, my old Gremlin, which was my first guitar and not very good, but then I wasn't a very good guitarist so that was all right.  When we were in Yeast?, we formed another duo called Anal Spikemobile in which I played the same guitar (for Yeast?, I played a better one) for a similar noisy aesthetic.  I have no idea what Dave is singing, but I'm just making some sounds.  If I remember correctly, most of these "songs" were written on the spot, though I might have used some riffs that I had been playing around with but hadn't used in a proper song yet.  As we evolved into The Lenin Spoonful, we would write lyrics exquisite corpse style by passing around a notebook.  At this point, I don't think we even bothered with writing lyrics.  Everything was improv, and thus the songs tended to be very short.  In addition to the songs becoming more songlike, another reason we changed the name of the band was that we thought there was already a band called the Angry Housewives (you can see them in the image, which is from a local newspaper).  Years later, we'd figure out that it was just a production of a play (which I've never seen, but would love to--it sounds fun).  By that point, our band was long gone, as we had moved on to adult life and thought we had better things to do than spend a few hours  beating on household objects and recording the result (maybe we were wrong--it was fun and probably made for good therapy).  Anyhow, here's some more Angry Housewives.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Return Of The Angry Housewives

I've been going through a box of old cassettes and listening to them one last time.  Most of them I haven't listened to in a decade or longer, so I figured it was time to stop carrying them around.  I shed most of my cassettes about a decade ago, trying to find good homes for them, and that was a hard task, but I succeeded.  Despite the cassette making an ironic hipster comeback, even fewer people seem to really want old cassettes today.  So some I've passed on, but a number of others have, sadly, ended up in the trash.  However, I was too fond of some material on the cassettes to confine it to oblivion.

Such was the case with the Angry Housewives.  It was a band that my pal Dave Bell and I had where we beat on pots and pans and whatever was on hand.  Later, our pal Damon Mahon joined, and we evolved into the Lenin Spoonful and, ultimately, Yeast?  Mainly, the Housewives were a bedroom recording project.  I think some of our recordings were even made on my old Sears boombox, though others might have been done on Dave's 4-track.  The Housewives definitely fall into the category of music more fun to play than listen to, but some of you out there, the more experimental music minded, might enjoy these tracks.  I like them in moderation myself.  Below is a track from a cassette called Galgenhumor, which features just Dave and myself.  The cassette had no insert, so I have no idea what the titles of the songs were or even if they had titles.  When I digitized the tracks, I couldn't always tell when a song ended, so there are probably a few on this MP3.  And, since there was no insert for the cassette, I just used the cover of a later cassette for the image.  I think we only made two records, so this was the first.  The next time you have guests who won't leave, just put some Angry Housewives on.  I bet they'll leave soon.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Underground Literary Alliance Video!

Crazy Carl Robinson alerted me to the reappearance of an old Underground Literary Alliance video, shot by our pal Pat King in Philadelphia in 2005.  In it, you can see a bit of me reading from The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus and hear me reenact a pickup line some dude tried on me once (it didn't work--I don't know that it could ever work on anyone--but it was a very funny and memorable line).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"America, Land Of Freedom"

My poem "America, Land Of Freedom" has been published in the new issue of Inscape. You can find it here (7 MB PDF) or in print on the campus of Ursuline College.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Citation Alert!

I always enjoy coming across scholarly articles that cite some work I've done.  The latest one I've run across is by Viviana Gaballo from the University of Macerata in Italy.  Her article "Language And Culture In Minor Media Text Types:  A Diachronic, Intralinguistic Analysis From Fanzines To Webzines" is published in the book Contrastive Media Analysis.  She cites my dissertation, which covered similar territory.  I'm happy that work I did in 2001 or so can still be useful to scholars across the world in 2012!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Comic Books And The Cold War Wins An Award!

I wrote an essay about Silver Age Flash comics, and it was published in an anthology focusing on Cold War era comic books.  I read the collection when it came out and enjoyed it.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one who liked the book.  It won the 2013 Ray And Pat Browne Award For The Best Edited Collection In Popular And American Culture.  So congratulations to everyone else who helped make Comic Books And The Cold War, 1946–1962: Essays On Graphic Treatment Of Communism, The Code And Social Concerns an awardwinner!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Overview

It took twenty posts and half a year, but I managed to go through most of the changes between the original and revised versions of The Stand by Stephen King.  But in case anyone doesn't want to get that detailed, here is a handy list of the major changes:

1) There are eight new chapters:  11, 12, 14, 17, 20, 31, 33, and 38.

2) Two old chapters get split into two.  Old chapter 11 becomes new chapters 13 and 15, and old chapter 37 becomes new chapters 46 and 47.

3) Most of the chapters get expanded, some significantly.  Many new scenes are introduced, and old scenes are often more detailed and lengthened.

4) All of the chapters get fiddled with, sometimes down to very small levels such as changing the punctuation.

5) King provides a new preface.

6) Dates are often changed in the novel.  For example, the story is now set in 1990.

7) Cultural references are often updated.  For example, Howard the Duck becomes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

8) New characters are introduced such as Mark and Perion, and old characters get much more characterization.  For example, The Wolfman's story is explained (he's The Kid).

9) King chooses some different song quotations and adds quotations from poet Ed Dorn to the beginning and end of the book.

10)  The beginning and end of the book are changed with new scenes.

11) Illustrations by Berni Wrightson are included.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 20

Chapter 77 is the penultimate chapter, and King doesn't change much at all.  He only seems to add two lines of dialogue near the beginning and fiddle a bit here and there.  One might think that maybe King finally got worn out a bit revising and decided to coast to the end.  But, then, you know, there's the end of the novel, which is a new section.

78 also isn't much changed.  One fun change is that King deletes Lowell from the list of Maine cities and adds his own fictional Castle Rock.  78, or 68 to be more accurate, is also where my paperback ends, aside from a brief bio of King and some ads/mail order forms for other books.

The hardback does not stop.  It continues on with a quote from Ed Dorn, and then an epilogue featuring the return of Randall Flagg (only hinted at in the paperback), which perhaps starts with an allusion to "The End" by The Doors (Stuart Redman did mention meeting Jim Morrison once).  Evil, symbolized by Flagg, seems to be eternal, according to King.  And that's the end!  The uncut Stand runs for 1153 pages!

In the next post, I'll provide an overview for folks who are curious about the changes, but don't want to read all twenty posts.  Both versions are good, but I prefer the longer one.  Ideally, King or some scholars might someday set the novel back in its original time setting, delete/replace the 1980s references, and keep the expansion otherwise, as the novel is thoroughly an artifact of the 1970s.  That would likely be the best version of all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 19

Chapter 62 has the usual expansions and fiddling.  For example, Dayna Jurgens hears about the crucifixion of Hector Drogan, which wouldn't have made much sense in the paperback since that crucifixion scene didn't occur in it.  It's essentially the same otherwise though.  One would think by this point that King would be tired and just let the novel roll on, but the man is thorough; he appears to be tinkering with the entire manuscript.

63 has less expansion and fiddling, but it's a short chapter in both books, so that's probably why.  Basically, Tom Cullen has an additional line of dialogue, and King makes some other minor changes such as adding an apostrophe to the front of "Bye".

64 has more expansion, providing more details of Harold Lauder's death.  A typo also sneaks in.  There aren't many in this long, long book, so I was a bit surprised to find it.  The Colt Woodsman gets called a "Cold Woodsman".

65 and 66 are much the same, but I didn't spot any typos.  67 isn't much different, but there is a couple of interchanges between Lloyd Henreid and Shirley, the telephone operator.  Another interesting aspect is that when King updated the year Paul Burlson would be in charge of the secret police he only moved it from 1990 to 1991.  Apparently, King decided that Flagg's police state would move along much more quickly.

68 and 69 continue this trend. 70, like 63, is a short chapter and has less expansion and fiddling for that reason.  There is a new paragraph in which Trashcan Man gets a little more detailed in figuring out how to get the nuclear warhead up the stairs, but that's the biggest change.

71 gets treated much like 70 does.  72 returns to the pattern of more expansion.  For example, it contains Larry Underwood's list of how many miles he and the other walkers have traveled each day.  It also has a new scene where the walkers find animal crackers and potato chips in a station wagon filled with corpses.  One interesting change is that instead of books by John Jakes (though Stu Redman only calls them  "books about that Kent family"), he asks for books by Gore Vidal.  All the books are long, historical novels though.

73 also gets more expansion.  Larry has a nightmare about playing a concert.  The second time he has the nightmare (the first time in the paperback), John Wayne Gacy gets added to the creeps in the audience.

74 follows this pattern.  One interesting change is that King alters the initials on the keycase from S.L. to A.C.  Maybe S.L. stands for 'Salem's Lot, an earlier novel of his, and A.C. is the first part of AC/DC, one of King's favorite bands?  I don't know what the initials stand for, nor why he switched them.

75 gets more expanded.  King adds a few scenes.  Tom Cullen and Stu watch movies (including Rambo IV, which didn't exist at the time), they have an accident on the snowmobile and they have to find another one, and their travels on Christmas Eve are described.  King also makes smaller changes such as correcting the spelling of "breech birth".

76 is another short chapter, so, like the other ones, it doesn't get expanded and fiddled with much.

77 is next! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 18

Like most of the chapters, 58 is expanded, but, unlike many of them, it's not by much.  One interesting addition is that King includes lyrics from Dave Van Ronk's "Backwater Blues" instead of just mentioning the song and mentions Tom Rush's "Sister Kate".  One could almost create a soundtrack to the novel from all the songs King mentions.  Of course, the song mentioned most often, "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" by Larry Underwood, would be missing.

59 follows this trend.  One interesting change is that when someone yells out at the meeting about Randall Flagg, King changes the reference to Flagg from "black man" to "hardcase".  Perhaps he was being politically correct for 1990, but it could also be that "black man" was a poor choice from the beginning since Flagg can pass for any race and the more typical "dark man" reference for him implies evil more than skin color.  However, King also changes Mother Abagail's reference to Flagg from "black Imp" to "Imp"; on the other hand, he leaves plenty of other racial slurs in the novel.  Another interesting change is that the ending of the chapter changes its setting from the picnic scene to the scene of the explosion.  It's essentially the same plotwise, but Fran Goldsmith makes Stu Redman swear that he'll return on Nick Andros's blood.

60, a short chapter, is basically the same, just a tad fiddled with and expanded (for example, Glen Bateman has an extra line of dialogue).

61 starts Book III.  One interesting change before the chapter starts is that the epigraphs change a bit.  In the paperback, King quotes the band America:  "I understand you've been running from the man / Who goes by the name of the Sandman / He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye / of a hurricane that's abandoned . . ."  This lyric gets replaced by the chorus of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land".  King also corrects the credit for the "Stand By Me" lyrics from The Drifters to Ben E. King.  61 gets more expansion than the few previous chapters.  Judge Farris's journey west is much more detailed.  One reference update I enjoyed was King's replacement of Howard The Duck (called "Howard Duck" perhaps to show that Bobby Terry, the reader of the comic book stack, isn't very smart) by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are both funny animal comic books and both were quite popular in their respective times.  King also replaces Superman with Batman, as Batman with his 1989 movie was more popular in 1990.   

62 is next!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 17

Like most of the other chapters, Chapter 51 gets expanded.  For example, Larry Underwood and Harold Lauder's conversation, as well as its aftermath, is a bit more detailed.  Most of the other scenes also get expanded a bit, but there are no major changes except for the committee's discussion of the spies, which gets omitted in the paperback, but in the 1990 hardback runs for six pages.

Chapter 52 is similar.  Scenes get more detailed and references get updated (on a poster in Harold's house, Jimmy Carter becomes George Bush).  The expansions also help with the foreshadowing of Nick Andros's death at one point, adding some suspense and dread to a novel that already has quite a bit of dread and suspense.

Chapter 53 has the usual expansions.  Among the more major ones, King adds the agenda of the Free Zone's meeting; Stu Redman telling Fran Goldsmith how he met Jim Morrison once, long after Morrison was supposed to be dead; and Nadine Cross remembering using a Ouija board in college.

Like the committee meeting in 51, the meeting in 54 is expanded, but not by as much.  The other scenes are also expanded or changed a bit, but there are no additional scenes.

55 continues this trend, but, in addition to the usual expansions and minor fiddling, 56 has three new scenes:  Nadine getting her belongings from the house she shared with Joe/Leo Rockway, as she tries to assuage her guilt about what she's done and planning to do; a brief one with Fran having a conversation with Laurie Constable; and a very brief one noting that more people are entering Boulder.

57 also has a new scene, a freaky one where Randall Flagg takes over a drive-in movie theater to have a one-way conversation with Nadine.  In the other sections, expanded and changed a bit as usual, one interesting addition is that Brad Kitchner mentions the destruction of Gary, Indiana, though he doesn't know that it was caused by the Trashcan Man.

58 is next!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 16

Chapter 45 has the usual date changes.  For example, Mother Abagail is now born in 1882 and not 1877.  It also is expanded to provide more background on Abagail's past.  For example, in the 1980 paperback, the paragraph that ends with "That year had been a topper." is followed with the one that begins "And little by little . . ."  In the 1990 version, three long paragraphs appear between those two.  The flashback to her music performance is also expanded, and King uses the scene again in a nightmare where Abagail faces off with Randall Flagg.  King adds two pages of Abagail using the outhouse before she looks out at the corn.  Her journey to and from the Richardson farm is also longer by several pages, filled with her memories and more details of the events in that section.  The cooking scene is also a bit longer, and King throws in lyrics to a hymn Abagail sings and plays on the guitar.  Nick Andros is described not just as "The young man with the dark hair" but as "The young man with the eyepatch and the dark hair", continuing the eye injury from Ray Booth.  Maintaining that detail also adds to Nick's almost psychic power.  Not only is he deaf and mute, but he's nearly blind.  Nevertheless, he's often more perceptive than people with all senses functioning.  The aftermath of the meal scene gets expanded a bit, as does Abagail's conversation with Nick and Ralph Brentner and the rest of the scenes in the chapter, including a funny bit where Abagail shows Ralph a letter she received from Ronald Reagan congratulating her on turning a hundred years old.

Chapter 46 gets quite changed, since King adds a storyline featuring two new characters, Mark and Perion.  Mark gets sick and dies, Perion kills herself from grief, and Fran Goldsmith wonders how she will be able to deliver her baby in a world seemingly without medical care.  The excerpts from Fran's diary are longer and more detailed; for example, the visit to Stovington runs for four pages instead of only one.  Some details get changed.  For example, Nolan Ryan is described as playing for the Texas Rangers and not the California Angels, presumably because he switched teams in the 1980s.  Some updates don't work as well though.  King moves the Arab embargo oil shortage from the 1970s to the 1980s, which isn't historically accurate.  There are also more entries.  In the paperback, the diary skips from July 8 to July 19, while the hardback includes entries from the 12th, 14th, and 16th before the chapter ends.  King having apparently decided that the chapter was getting long, split it into two, with the entry from the 19th taking place in the next chapter.  One last interesting bit is that King has Fran misspell Abagail's name as "Abigail" here, perhaps to show that she's only heard it in her dreams and so doesn't know the correct spelling.  He is very thorough!

Chapter 47 continues what in the paperback is just a single chapter.  This time, King doesn't add a new storyline, but he does expand significantly the meeting of Fran and the others with Dayna Jurgens and the other women she travels with.  In the 1990 version, the women don't have an auto accident, but they escape from captivity.  The chapter contains a firefight between the women and their captors with Fran's group in the mix of the chaos (the women use the encounter as their opportunity to escape).  It's a fairly brutal scene, as the women take revenge and kill the men who had been keeping them as sex slaves.  It also serves as foreshadowing for the conflict between the two sides of survivors later in the novel.  As in the previous chapter, Fran's diary entries are expanded (the August 1st entry grows from one sentence to one page) but there are no more of them.  Other scenes get expanded a bit as well.  Oddly enough, the spelling of "Abagail" as "Abigail" also continues this chapter even in the dialogue where there is no logical reason for a misspelling.  Perhaps the copyeditor got confused by King's subtlety because this doesn't occur in the paperback.               

Chapter 48 also is quite different and includes the character The Kid, whom King notes in the preface that he had always regretted cutting.  The Kid is quite memorable, a hotrodder rockabilly type who sodomizes with a pistol and otherwise terrorizes the Trashcan Man.  In the paperback, The Kid is replaced by an old man who gives Trash a ride in a car and only lasts a couple of pages before dying of a heart attack.  The Kid gets twentysome pages.  Other than the major addition of The Kid storyline, the chapter has the usual expansions (Trashcan's arrival in Las Vegas has extra scenes; Hector Drogan's role grows from a couple of lines in the paperback to a few pages, ending in a crucifixion--this scene also shows vividly how different the Boulder community is from that Flagg runs) and changes such as a reference to the fight in the previous chapter.

Chapter 49 and 50 start the chapters in Boulder, which aren't as altered as these last three chapters, though King still expands and fiddles with them a bit.  Some interesting changes from this section include inflation.  In 1980, King priced Nick's house in Boulder at $150,000-200,000.  Ten years later, it's in the $450,000-500,000 range.  The paperback book itself cost $2.95 in 1980, and, from what I can dig up, $6.99 in 1991.  Even with the expanded length, that's quite a jump for just a decade's passing!

I'll pick up with 51 next.              

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 15

Chapter 44 gets a few expansions.  Among other changes, Larry Underwood swears a bit more in the beginning, thinks a bit more about the death of Rita Blakemoor, remembers ditching his motorcycle and starting to walk, gets discovered (and nearly killed) by Nadine Cross and Joe earlier, rummages in a store, enjoys the seashore a bit more, wonders about Nadine and Joe a bit more when he does meet them (when Joe tries to kill him yet again), remembers a musician friend who descended into and rose out of drug addiction, plays a bit more music, and humorously fancies himself as a Scotland Yard detective.  Nadine gets a large section of the chapter, in which King fleshes out more of her and Joe's background and has Nadine save Larry's life again (Joe wishes to cut Larry's throat while he sleeps).  This addition makes Nadine a much more sympathetic character than she is in the earlier version, though King makes up for that by making her a bit more antagonistic to Mother Abagail in the dream scene.  The characters' discovery of all the abandoned cars on the highway gets more detailed, as does their discovery of the message left on the barn and their visits to the motorcycle dealership and Stovington.  Lucy Swann's introduction gets more details as well.

Quite a few brand names get changed in this chapter.  For example, Harold Lauder really enjoys Payday and not Milky Way candy bars in 1990.  I wonder if King's own tastes changed since both brands were probably still around in both eras.  Another interesting change is that Harold's carving of his and Fran Goldsmith's initials gets a heart with an arrow illustration this time, though the text still reads, "In a heart.  With an arrow." which is probably unnecessary in this edition.

Chapter 45 is next.  The middle of this book has some long chapters!        

Monday, June 17, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 14

Chapter 28 gets expanded similarly to how Chapter 27 did.  The scene with Fran Goldsmith and the pie also includes an incident where Fran burns french fries, remembers seeing the massacre in the tv station on tv, and recalls a town hall meeting in which the citizens decided to barricade the town.  The scene where Fran buries her father is also expanded to include more details of how she got his corpse out of the house.

Chapter 29 gets a minor expansion after Stuart Redman knocks Elder, a soldier Stu believes is out to kill him, out and details Stu wondering if perhaps Elder hadn't come to kill him.

Chapter 30 is a short chapter that just gets fiddled with and, as a result, gets expanded a tad.

Chapter 31 is a new chapter, detailing Randall Flagg brutally getting his forged papers and a car from a dying Christopher Bradenton.

Chapter 32 gets a minor expansion where Lloyd Henreid masturbates after he kills the rat.

Chapter 33 is another new chapter, featuring Nick Andros getting attacked by and then killing Ray Booth, the ringleader of the thugs who beat him up when he first arrived in Shoyo.

Chapter 34 is basically the same, just the usual minor fidgets such as when King corrects "trustee" to "trusty" when Trashcan Man reminisces about being in prison.

Chapter 35 gets majorly expanded at the beginning and features Rita Blakemoor and Larry Underwood discussing leaving New York City.  A sex scene in the middle of the chapter gets expanded as well.  King adds a scene where the characters outfit themselves for the journey in a sporting goods store, including a quote from The Lord Of The Rings, one of King's inspirations for the novel.  The scene where the characters leave Manhattan also gets a couple of expansions (a man offers Larry a million dollars for fifteen minutes with Rita and Larry and Rita's reunion runs a bit longer).  As with almost all the chapters, there are minor changes as well.

Similarly, Chapter 36 gets some expansions.  Fran's nursing of Gus Dinsmore is described in more detail, Fran and Harold Lauder discuss how to walk across New England, and Harold explains why he brought the paint down from the barn roof.

Chapter 37 gets a few expansions during Stu's conversation with Glen Bateman such as when Glen discusses plagues striking at the end of a century.  Of course, most of the expansions involve dialogue by Glen, a character who loves to talk.

Chapter 38 is another new chapter, the last for some time.  In it, King provides more slice of life scenes of how the superflu affected people who survived it across the USA.  They all die, showcasing in particular the general comments, from the previous chapter, Glen had about how people would cope.

Chapter 39 gets a few expansions such as Lloyd thinking guiltily about his eating of the corpse in the next cell. 

Chapter 40 deletes the accident Nick has (which explained how he was injured without the Ray Booth attack) and the recovery of his eye.  His recovery overall gets more detailed.

Chapter 41 has a longer beginning which features Larry remembering his rejection of an earlier camping trip.  The narrator also mentions Irma Fayette, a minor character from Chapter 38.  The end of the chapter also gets expanded and seems to feature Flagg passing through the town Larry is spending the night in.

Chapter 42 has a few minor expansions but is essentially the same.

Chapter 43 features several new scenes:  Nick and Tom Cullen having a conversation, Nick thinking about Tom, Nick and Tom hiding in a barn's storm cellar from a tornado, details of the tornado's aftermath, Nick and Tom encountering a herd of buffalo, and Nick wishing for a car and driver to give them a ride.  The scenes where Tom plays with toy cars, Nick finds a bike for Tom, they cross the Kansas border, they meet Julie Lawry get extended, and they meet Ralph Brentner get extended.  Their leaving town is altered a bit, and King drops the mention of Rand McNally when Nick uses an atlas to plot their course to Nebraska.

I'll pick up with 44 next.     

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 13

Chapter 27 gets an expanded version of Larry Underwood's reminiscences. Instead of breaking from the past into the present after telling how Larry fell out with his friend Rudy Schwartz, the story continues to tell how Larry met his girlfriend Yvonne Wetterlen and lost her as well. The expansion makes Larry's meeting later that chapter with Rita Blakemoor all the more poignant.

On to 28 next!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 12

Chapter 26 gets majorly expanded.  In the 1978 paperback, it's 4 pages.  In the 1990 hardback, it's 20.  So far, no other chapter has gotten this much expansion, and I want to say that no other one coming up does either, but we'll deal with that question as we progress further in the novel.  Chapter 26 is mainly atmospheric and has that 1970s paranoia about the country falling apart in such full effect that one wonders if Mr. King was getting high by smoking a potent mixture of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate Tapes.  This aspect of King surfing the zeitgeist is one of my favorite aspects of the novel anyhow, so I quite enjoyed this expanded chapter.  Let's see.  We have campus radicals; newscasters having a shootout with the army and taking over the airwaves; samizdat editions of newspapers; a talk radio host getting executed on air; a massacre at Kent State University that makes the one on May 4, 1970 look like a minor incident; black nationalists taking revenge on white supremacy one white person at a time live on tv; some last lies from a dying president of the USA; and much much more.  Basically, this chapter shows the lengths the government goes to in an attempt to cover up the superflu, and the utter evil and futility of those efforts as the truth comes out and most of the population dies.

One notable change is the shift of the talk radio show's telephone numbers from 656-8600 and 656-8601 to 555-8600 and 555-8601 (too many King fans annoyed people with the original numbers perhaps?).

Chapter 27 isn't quite as exciting, but it starts a new phase in the novel.  After Chapter 26, civilization as the characters knew it is over; it's postapocalypse time now!  We'll pick up there next.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 11

Chapter 23 has the usual minor expansion and fiddling, for the most part.  For example, Kings adds a bit to the sentence "He would read as his supper cooked over a small, smokeless campfire, it didn't matter what; words from some battered and coverless paperback novel" making it "He would read as his supper cooked over a small, smokeless campfire, it didn't matter what; words from some battered and coverless paperback porno novel, or maybe Mein Kampf, or an R. Crumb comic book, or one of the baying reactionary position papers from the American Firsters or the Sons of the Patriots.  When it came to the printed word, Flagg was an equal opportunity reader."

Chapter 24 has more expansion.  The scene with Lloyd Henreid and his lawyer is quite longer, and Lloyd finds out that, due to a recent Supreme Court case, he may be executed within the month.  One odd thing is that later in the chapter, a prisoner who attacks Lloyd gets a pack of cigarettes, but King changes the brand from Pall Malls to Tareytons.  Both brands were seemingly still made in both time periods, so why the switch?  Maybe King switched brands himself.  I doubt he researched the preferences of prisoners, but it's King, so perhaps he did.

Chapter 25 has two similar expansions, first when Nick Andros rides a bicycle to leave town to find help and then later when Jane Baker dies.

Chapter 26 gets expanded even more, and I will pick up there next. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 10

Most of the additional chapters in the revised version of The Stand occur early in the novel, and Chapter 20 is one of them (and, yes, when a novel has 78 chapters, Chapter 20 is still early).  The chapter focuses on Fran Goldsmith figuring out what to do with her life now that she is pregnant.  It's essentially a characterization chapter, which is why it probably got cut from the earlier, shorter version of the novel.  Fran hangs about in a hotel, King makes an AC/DC joke, and Fran's mother gets the flu, as Captain Trips starts hitting Maine hard.

The next chapter featuring Stu Redman only has some minor revisions, but the following chapter is quite expanded.  One minor revision in it though is quite fun.  In Chapter 22, King updates the reference from Jimmy Carter to George Bush.  So, instead of a description of the President of the USA as the "Georgia Giant" and a "clod-hopper"; he gets called "The dirty alderman."  Despite their shared Maine background, it appears King might have liked Bush less than he did Carter.  Then again, he also deletes the line, "The night that man had been elected had been a night of horror for him, and for all thinking men", but since the thought is attached to Len Creighton, who is one of the men responsible for the flu, it's probably just a reflection of the fact that Carter was not perceived as militaristic as his predecessors Nixon and Ford were, and thus might have been viewed as a threat by men such as Creighton to the military's development of biological weapons, and perhaps to Creighton's livelihood of war in general.

The expansion of the chapter involves Billy Starkey's suicide in the Project Blue laboratory where the superflu escaped from.  Before he goes though, Starkey pulls Frank D. Bruce's head out of the bowl of soup he had died in, a fact that had bothered Starkey when he observed it over the surveillance cameras.  As Creighton, who had taken over the command post from Starkey, notices though, Starkey was unsuccessful in clearing all the soup out of the man's eyebrows, which now becomes a fixation for Creighton, perhaps a suggestion by King that though the individuals change, the role remains about the same.

I'll pick up next with Chapter 23, which focuses on Randall Flagg, the novel's major villain (assuming you forgive Starkey, Creighton, and the rest of the military for messing with the superflu in the first place). 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 9

The first thing that stands out about Chapter 19 of The Stand is that it has a picture in it.  The 1990 edition has several illustrations by Bernie Wrightson (or Berni; the spelling of his first name seems to vary), perhaps best known as the co-creator of the comics character Swamp Thing.  Wrightson had collaborated with King before on Creepshow and Cycle of the Werewolf.  Strangely, these illustrations are dated 1984 and 1985, suggesting that the revised Stand had a long gestation period.  The first one is of Larry taking care of his dying mother. In general, the illustrations don't add much to the novel, but they're a nice touch and a nod to the old tradition of novels with illustrations which had mostly died out in the 20th Century.

Beyond the inclusion of the illustration, other changes in this chapter are minor.  One interesting one is that King dropped a complaint from Larry's mother about the hospital emergency room being "full of Puerto Ricans".  One might suspect that the more politically correct times of 1990 made that 1970s ethnic complaint a bit taboo, but since he leaves in some of Alice Underwood's other ethnic and racist slurs in the text, it's probably just a result of his fiddling with the text.  The man is a thorough reviser.

I'll pick up next with Chapter 20, which appears to be a new chapter.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 8

Chapter 17 in the 1990 edition is an all new chapter, which features Billy Starkey observing the carnage in the military compound that unleashed the superflu and deciding the government should cover up the flu's existence and origin by killing anyone who stumbles upon the truth.  The chapter cuts to another scene where a Houston reporter and photographer get murdered by undercover military personnel.  In addition to fleshing out Starkey a bit, the chapter makes the handwringing about government and authority in the later Boulder Free Zone scenes more thematically powerful.

Chapter 18 picks up the storyline from the earlier edition again and features Nick Andros becoming the new sheriff by default  in Shoyo, Arkansas.  Oddly enough, the expanded chapter seems to be missing a paragraph from the earlier edition where Nick lowers his head to avoid lip-reading insults from the prisoners.  Otherwise, it seems to have the usual fiddling and minor expansions until the end of the older chapter, to which King adds a few more pages in which the sheriff and most of the town dies, saddling Nick with taking care of the men who assaulted him.  The doctor who treats Nick also notes that the town appears to be blockaded by the army and all the phones are dead, which continues the storyline from the previous chapter about the government trying to cover up the superflu, or barring that, its victims.

Chapter 19 moves to Larry Underwood and New York, and I'll pick up there next.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 7

The new Chapter 13 gets expanded a bit where Stu Redman banters/duels with Dick Deitz, and, of course, also has the usual minor fiddling such as removing the italics from "The man with no face" when Stu dreams of Randall Flagg.  The big change is a major expansion in the middle of the old chapter.  King adds a chapter where Deitz tape records an account of the research on Stu and then takes the material from the end of the old chapter involving the nurse Patty Greer and makes it into a short chapter of its own.  Chapter 16 is essentially the same as the old chapter 12 with some minor fiddling (for example, Nehi becomes Jolt in the gas station shootout scene).

Chapter 17 is brand new though, and I'll pick up there next.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 6

In the 1990 edition of The Stand, Chapter 8 gets expanded at the end and the reader gets a few more paragraphs detailing how the flu spreads across the country.  Chapter 9 gets a few more details about Larry Underwood's one night stand with the oral hygienist, and Larry's mom buys him a Sara Lee cheesecake with strawberries in addition to all the things she bought him in the earlier edition.  That last addition is odd, but I haven't heard that Stephen King received any sort of product placement money for the novel, so it's probably just a minor detail meant to add to the realistic feel of the novel (well, as realistic as an apocalyptic novel gets anyway) that got cut when the original manuscript got edited.

More major changes happen in Chapters 11 and 12, which aren't the 11 and 12 in the earlier edition.  The 1990 edition has 78 chapters whereas the earlier version has only 68, so, in addition to the various other changes, King adds ten new chapters to the book.

Chapter 11, the first of those new chapters, involves Larry visiting his mother at her workplace, where she lectures him about how selfish he is and then gives him money to go see a movie until she's done working.  He goes and sees one of the Nightmare On Elm Street movies.  Chapter 12 involves Frannie Goldsmith fighting with her mother over Frannie's pregnancy.  Both chapters certainly aren't essential for the plot, but are nice ways for King to develop the characters a bit more, especially for Larry's guilt complex and Frannie's concerns about motherhood.  Interestingly enough, both chapters involve the protagonists having conflicts with their mothers.

Chapter 13 returns to one of the chapters in the earlier edition, where Stu Redman gets some answers about his quarantine.  I'll pick up there tomorrow. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 5

Many of the early chapters introducing the cast of characters aren't much changed beyond some fiddling, some expanded characterization, and some updated cultural references.  Some of the times, King leaves some things unchanged that are puzzling.  For instance, the twentysomething rock singer Larry Underwood daydreams of having sex with Raquel Welch.  No offense to Ms. Welch, but not many male heterosexuals who were infants in the mid-1960s probably were fantasizing about her in 1990.  A then-contemporary sex symbol such as Cindy Crawford would have been more likely.  Perhaps, King really had a thing for Welch so he left that reference unchanged, or Larry just likes MILFs (given the later Rita Blakemoor plotline, that's certainly possible).

But I'm discussing changes, not the things King didn't change.  And Chapter 7 has a major change.  In the 1980 paperback, it begins with the nurse telling Stu to roll up his sleeve, whereas in 1990 it begins with an entire scene featuring the character Vic Palfrey trying to figure out how he ended up in the hospital, before it cuts over to the scene with Stu.  The addition is a nice one, though not for Vic since he dies in it, but it fleshes out a minor character and adds a bit more suspense to the threat of the superflu.

Some readers have complained that the earlier version of The Stand is superior to the expanded one since the storyline is more streamlined and the writing more taut, but, in general, if you liked The Stand before, then there's a good chance that changes such as addition of the Vic scene will make you like it more.

They make the novel even Standier.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 4

In his preface, King describes the 1990 Stand as an "expansion of the original novel" and that indeed is what most of the new material is.  Scenes get extended and characters get characterized more.  For example, in the first chapter of the 1990 Stand, the reader learns a bit more about Stu Redmond's background, including that his youngest brother died of pneumonia, for which Stu felt guilty, a bit of foreshadowing on a couple of levels.

Of course, King fiddles as well as expands.  He even fiddles at such tiny levels, it's fairly mind-boggling.  For instant, Stu's description by his drinking buddies changes from "Old-time tough" to "Old Time Tough."  That's right; he deletes a hyphen, adds a space, and changes the ts to capitals.

When I went to Kent State, I worked for a year in The Institute For Bibliography And Editing (IBE), where at that point they were working on crafting critical editions of the novels of Joseph Conrad.  To create a critical edition, they would gather all the editions possible of the novels, including manuscripts, publishers proofs, and related material such as letters commenting on the novels.  Then they would work on figuring what Conrad's intent was for the work and go from there to craft the ideal version of the novel including noting variants in the footnotes.  It was a tough job, not so much mine individually (I mainly scanned in Conrad's letters where he mainly complained to his agent about money and gout), but putting together an ideal version of a text because so many little changes existed among editions (many of them typos and screwups; others, changes of the minds of writer, editor, or publisher).

Seeing something like the switch from "Old-time tough" to "Old Time Tough" would make the IBE staff weep with despair, especially since the 1990 Stand, in addition to the expansion by hundreds of pages, also seems to be filled with tiny little changes such as that.

King once called the writing of the novel his own personal Vietnam.  Editing a critical edition would be like fighting the whole damn Cold War.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 3

The date changes are what stand out most noticeably in the 1990 version of The Stand.  The novel is so steeped in 1970s paranoia that switching the setting to 1990 just makes things odd.  Even 1980 was pushing things a bit.  In truth, this novel seems set a few days after Jonestown, with Watergate, stagflation, the Kent State shootings, the Charles Manson trial, and the Vietnam War all fairly fresh memories as well.  Actually, the novel was published before the Jonestown tragedy, but it captures the 1970s horror zeitgeist so well it seems prophetic.  But 1990?

No, that doesn't work.  This novel doesn't feel set in Ronald Reagan's America and certainly not George Bush's.  Not that those weren't horrific times as well, but the horror was of a different type, more like that of a Yuppie vampire sucking the blood out of a lazy steelworker.  The Stand's horror is the shock of 1960s peace and love hippies giving up on flower power and going underground and robbing banks and setting bombs.  It's Patty Hearstville all the way, no matter how many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get sprinkled in.  Randall Flagg would have been working on Wall Street in the 1980s, not wandering the backroads of America.

I wish King had set the novel in the 1970s, but I can live with 1980.

Personally, I just consider all the date changes typos.  Tsk, tsk, such sloppy copyediting.  It mars an otherwise fine novel.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 2

One of the major changes to the 1990 edition of The Stand is that Stephen King added a preface explaining why a new edition of the novel has been released.  According to King (and he should know, eh?), four hundred pages of the manuscript were cut from the published version of the novel in 1978 mainly due to financial concerns.  The publisher was worried that the extra pages would have pushed the price too high for the book, as it was a long novel already, so King reluctantly made the cuts.  For the 1990 edition, he restored many but not all of those pages, and he also tinkered with some more things such as updating the cultural references and the dates.  He did something similar for the paperback edition in 1980, mainly with the dates, moving the date of the flu outbreak from 1980 to 1985.  For the 1990 edition, the date is moved to 1990.

In addition to the preface, King made minor updates to the dedication (from "For my wife Tabitha:  This dark chest of wonders." to "For Tabby/this dark chest of wonders.") and the author's note.  The excerpts from songs that serve as invocations and mood music to begin the book change from songs by Bruce Springsteen, Blue Oyster Cult, and Bob Dylan to songs by Bruce Springsteen, Blue Oyster Cult, and Country Joe And The Fish.  Why Dylan gets dropped is beyond me.  I haven't finished reading the 1990 edition yet, so my suspicion is that he gets used later since his song, "Shelter From The Storm", is still listed in the copyright acknowledgements at the beginning of the novel.  But, the song by Country Joe And The Fish isn't listed there, so perhaps someone slipped up and didn't replace Dylan with Country Joe there.  Then again, the Country Joe lyrics are just the "What's that spell?" portions of the "Fish" chants (or "Fuck" when they were feeling particularly rowdy), so maybe they didn't need the legalese.

After the song lyrics, we get a page that states "The circle opens" along with an Ed Dorn quote ("We need help, the Poet reckoned.").  As an aside, the one time I was in the same room as King was in Maine in 1996 at an Ed Dorn poetry reading during a "Poetry in the 1950s" conference.  Despite the brickbats snooty literati sometime toss his way (for example, when he got a medal from the National Book Foundation, some critics and publishing types had a hissyfit), King has been very supportive of literature in general, even stuff far more avant garde than his own work.  If I remember correctly, he even paid for Dorn's appearance at the conference.

Then we get the first actual bit of the novel, a brief scene with Charlie Campion, the plague carrier, waking up his wife so they can flee from California, where he has been working at a military base developing biological weapons, one of which, the superflu or Captain Trips, has now escaped the lab and started killing everyone at the base.

And after that we reach the point where the 1978/1980 Stand starts.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 1

As a kid, I read a lot of Stephen King.  He's a good writer, and his imaginative horror novels definitely caught my adolescent attention.  I even interviewed him once through the mail for my high school newspaper, so he's a nice guy as well to have taken the time to do that.  My favorite King novel is The Stand, a very gripping apocalyptic novel.  In 1990, King came out with an unabridged edition of the already long novel which had been first published in 1978.  I always meant to read it, but never got around to it.  A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy, figuring 23 years was long enough of a wait.  I still like the book and still find King to be an excellent storyteller.  I prefer the horror of civilization collapse parts more than I do the neoTolkien/Christian Revelations quest parts, but the novel is still a good read overall.  What I found most interesting however were the many changes King made to the novel.  I looked around online for a good list of the changes but didn't find one; most people intending to do so seemed to get overwhelmed by the sheer sprawl of the novel and gave up.  In the 1990 edition, King restored and added a few hundred pages to the already long novel.  I won't track the minor changes; he even tinkers at the word and sentence level, but I'll focus on what I consider to be the major changes to the novel.  I only have the 1980 paperback to make comparisons with, which itself has some minor revisions from the first hardcover edition, but that's enough to deal with.

This might be a long series of posts.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Return Of Paseo . . . Tigers Beware!

If Fiora paper products look familiar, then you know about Paseo, the paper towel and toilet paper brand that got its paper from the forests inhabited by endangered tigers in Indonesia.  Basically, the company, Oasis Brands, just replaced the word "PASEO" with the word "fiora" (perhaps the new all lowercase word represents their chastisement for endangering animals) on the same packaging design.  Let's hope Oasis has really changed the source of its paper and are no longer endangering tigers as well!  That's what the company is claiming anyway.  They're even trying to do some good for people in need now.

If the World Wildlife Fund or another independent source such as the Forest Stewardship Council verifies Oasis's claims, I could see buying its products again.

I just don't want to buy paper towels soaked in tiger blood.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Does This Look Familiar?

I was perusing the coupons in the direct mail advertising bundle when I came across this ad for a new toilet paper and paper towel brand.  Alas, I don't think it's actually new, just an old brand with a new name.  Do you recognize it?  If so, please comment.  Hint:  I've written about it before.

More tomorrow.

Friday, January 4, 2013

O Christmas Tree! On The Treelawn You Go!

Today, while going to work, I noticed many a Christmas tree on many a treelawn.  What looks so wonderful in December apparently is only fit for the garbage collectors in January.  As I've noted before, Christmas trees are a strange tradition.  I still don't understand how killing a tree celebrates life.  Furthermore, the whole tradition seems like a lot of work for little gain.  People go out and buy a tree, drag it into the house, and then, a couple of weeks later, throw it out.  Why not spend time doing something else?

In any case, the tree I didn't kill continues to live happily outside (well, as happy as trees get anyway--it's bloody cold out at the moment).

Contrary to how we more typically personify Christmas trees in advertisements, stories, and so forth as being happy for the holidays, I bet they really hate Christmas.