Monday, May 29, 2023

New Single!: All Roads Lead To Death

Given the very metal song title, I thought about making the music match, but this is one of those songs where the music came first, and the lyrics second, so I didn't have the heart to break them up.  Musically, this is all at the limits of the standard guitar fretboard.  Lyrically, it is a cheer up song, albeit with quite a bit of gallows humor in it.  I hope it's not implying that life choices are meaningless since it's just meant as a suggestion for people not to dwell on their past decisions too much so they can move on with their lives.  For the weird instrument, I used a tea tin for the high frequency percussion.  Otherwise, it's the usual guitar, voice, bass as keyboard, and drums.  I played some keyboard on it as well.  Lyrics are below:

You didn't save anything for retirement.
You thought the world would have blown up by now.
So now you have to move in with the raccoon
who lives in a hole in the tree in the backyard.
And what became of all those gals you were going to go on second dates with?
Instead, you just went out on more first dates.
So now you're sitting around alone
wondering how things went so wrong.

It doesn't much matter what life choices you made.
All roads lead to death
So just relax and take another breath

You were eating bacon; I can smell it in your sweat.
How come all those politicians for peace keep voting for war?
They complain about the latest mass shooting,
but the whole society's based on violence.
Stop paying property taxes and watch what happens.
Men with guns will escort you from your property.
I see all those Big Pharma commercials selling fear,
but I got what you need, and it's free, and, baby, it's right here.

My uncle told me to eat peppers.
It would put lead in my pencil.
You can sing your pain, emo boy,
but no one cares.  They have pain of their own.
The women of the world are united.
The employers of the world are united.
They wish you well in your future endeavors.
So don't go around thinking you're clever.

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

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Noisy And Not So Noisy On Bandcamp!


The new album is now on Bandcamp, so now you should be able to listen to it just about anywhere you want.  If you want a mellow version, then Spotify is your ticket since they master it and make it the same volume level as everything else.  If you like it loud, then Soundcloud is for you.  The Bandcamp version is also loud, but it has WAV files uploaded, so it's probably a bit more dynamic, though that will depend on how Bandcamp translates them into MP3s if you download it.  

Anyhow, musicwise expect the occasional single this year if I write any new songs.  Next year, will see the Gang Of Foreigner album if I don't get run over by a bread delivery truck or something.  Some of the tracks from that album are already on Soundcloud, so give them a spin.  As for Noisy And Not So Noisy, feel free to let me know your favorite song on the album or whatnot in the comments.  Otherwise, I'll just assume you loved them all equally.  I made "Sourheart" the featured track on Bandcamp, so I suppose that's the single from the album now that it's released (they all were singles before the album's release).

If you want more Wred Fright music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", still available after all these decades (i.e., we found some more copies in the back of the closet).

Monday, May 15, 2023

Liner Notes For Noisy And Not So Noisy

I enjoy a good set of liner notes, so I try to make some for each album.  Here's the latest:  You can download them or just read them.  Since the album is digital only, the notes should be able to be read without a magnifying glass (sometimes I have to break one out when a cd's liner notes uses tiny font to cram in a bunch of text presumably so the record company can save on printing/packaging costs).  The album is on Spotify now ( though it thinks the album is from 2017--that's ok, it thinks the 2021 album is from 1994; it must date albums from the date of the earliest song composition), so it should be on most music platforms at this point.

If you want more Wred Fright music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", still available after all these decades (i.e., we found some more copies in the back of the closet).

Sunday, May 7, 2023

New Album!: Noisy And Not So Noisy

It looks like I'm releasing albums yearly currently, so here's 2023's album.  It includes songs written from 2017-2020.  I'd say the best tune on it is "Sourheart", but you may find another to be your favorite.  I thought about organizing it into two sides, a noisy side, and a not so noisy side, but I went for how Iggy And The Stooges supposedly arranged Raw Power with a rocker, ballad, classic rocker, and weird one (and if you know the difference between a rocker and a classic rocker, then please let me know).  In any case, I liked how these tunes flowed into one another from beginning to end.  I hope you will as well.  The liner notes should be out in a week or so, and the album will eventually pop up on Bandcamp, Spotify, and the other usual places.  I will keep you posted of course.

Thanks to my pal Loren for playing "Ready For The Next" on the radio last week!  Thanks also to The Tinnitist for including "Pep In Your Step" on a recent playlist

If you want more Wred Fright music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", still available after all these decades (i.e., we found some more copies in the back of the closet).

Monday, May 1, 2023

New Single!: Pep In Your Step

This song seems to have a singer dealing out advice.  Is he or she (or they even?) just trying to dole out some encouragement, or is something more sinister being offered such as an illicit drug?  Beats me, I just write the darn songs.  I'm reading a book by Paul McCartney in which he discusses the origins of his songs, and if a Beatle finds the songwriting process mysterious as well, I'm not going to argue.  In any case, here it is.  For the recording, I had some fun punching a punching bag for the bass drum (my advice is wear gloves like boxers do), stepping on a tin lid for more percussion, and turning a nice handclap into some sort of noisy beat that sounds like something Public Enemy's production team would have done to turn a sample into something unrecognizable.  Otherwise, it's the usual voice, guitar, bass as keyboard, and snare drum.  It came out reminiscent of a tune by Sparks, and I'm quite ok with that.  The title probably was an advertising slogan if it weren't already a big band song or something as well.  Lyrics are below:

You were creeping on Facebook again,
and then you slipped into her DMs.
You like hot chicks with glasses.
You tell me, "If I can get them to take them off, they can't see how ugly I am."

What you need is
some pep in your step

"They say I've got a great personality,
but if it's so great, how come no one wants to make out with me?"
Don't give me any of your bourgeois hoo-ha.
Just stay in the established parameters.

Let's hear it for the standard genre expectations.
It's been 25 years, and you still think of her.
I think there might be something wrong with you.
You're always wondering about what might have been while . . .

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

Sunday, April 23, 2023

New Recording!: "A Couple Of Beers With Igor"

This song is fun to play, so it's a nice one to end the tracks from Noisy And Not So Noisy with.  The track order on the album will be different (feel free to put suggestions in the comments or by email, but I think I have a good track order in mind already), so this may not be the last song on the album, but it's a nice one to end the run of singles on.  You can read what I wrote about the song when I first wrote it, read the lyrics, and hear the demo version here.  For the rerecording, it's the usual voice, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums.  I also had some fun with the keyboard here for this ode on planning to give up planning, and, of course, I had to use a couple of beer cans for part of the percussion.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Bonehead" on a recent playlist!

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

New Recording!: "Bonehead"

You know one, probably more than one.  Hey, you might even be one, sometimes at least.  Maybe the best thing if you have to be a bonehead is to be a bonehead and know you're a bonehead, so you can guard against it, unlike the rest of the population who think they're really smart but really are boneheads.  These days, it seems we're led by boneheads, which explains a lot.  You can hear the earlier demo version and read what I wrote about the song before here.  For the rerecording, it's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums.  I spiced it up by playing a little accordion in the break, and, like Spider Stacy in The Pogues, smashing a tea tray on my head for part of the percussion (good thing it's a short song, eh?).  

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Flea Market Intellectual" on a recent playlist!

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

Sunday, April 9, 2023

New Recording!: "Flea Market Intellectual"

This song celebrates autodidacticism.  Formal education has its place, but it is great fun amassing one's own education as a choose your own adventure.  Of course, doing this on the cheap like the singer of the song means that you may be allowing randomness to play too large a role in your intellectual activity and may have some gaping holes in your education (of course, these days the products of the finest educations aren't too impressive, so you may not be any worse off than them, just in a different manner).  You can read what I wrote about this song and hear the demo here.  For the rerecording, it's the usual voice, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums.  I also played keyboard as keyboard here, which I don't always do, but which seemed fitting since so many keyboards can be bought at flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores.  

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Has Anyone Seen Mitchell?" on a recent playlist!

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

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Comic: No More Politician Names On Welcome Road Signs

The latest comic is a letter I sent to my state representative and state senator in hopes that Ohio can do away with wasting tax money sticking the governor's and lieutenant governor's names on the welcome to Ohio highway signs (for background, read here).   Click on the picture to make it bigger:

It will be nice to drive into Ohio and just see a welcome to Ohio sign that didn't need to be updated every few years just to tell us who the governor is.  Especially with inflation lately, it's important to spend taxpayer money wisely and not waste it on useless, vanity stuff such as making and installing a bunch of metal signs that don't need to be made.  Since DeWine's name is up there already, it can be left up there until he leaves office, and then the signs can be replaced one last time (some may be overlays that we can simply take off and not replace--even better).  It would be nice if legislation were not needed to fix this issue, but the executive branch doesn't seem to be able to restrain itself here.  I mailed the letters on April 1st since the whole situation is comedic, but I hope they don't think it's just an April Fools' joke and actually do get rid of those dang signs.

For more cranky old man ranting, read the novel Fast Guy Slows Down!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

New Recording!: "Has Anyone Seen Mitchell?"

I once worked at a business where the managers all used fake names (they were Russian and wanted to sound American), and I found that amusing, so I wrote a song with their fake names in it.  They worked pretty hard because they were materialistic, but as they were later to find out, to a degree anyway (I don't know that the lesson completely took), materialism is ultimately a dead end (from what I hear, after I left, it all ended in tears as they sued one another).  You can always make more money; you can never make more time.  So this song is a carpe diem, take time to sniff the flowers one.  You can hear the demo and read what I wrote it about here.  For the rerecording, I had fun with a Peanuts toy keyboard and the usual voice, guitar, keyboard as bass (non-toy one), and drums.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Bomb The Bombs" on a recent playlist!

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

City Council Cartooning


I've lived in my city three years now and figured it was about time I attended a city council meeting.  It was probably better than whatever was on television that evening, but it wasn't exactly exciting.  Still, it's a civic duty to keep an eye on government once in a while; otherwise, they'll get up to all sorts of mischief.  It seemed like the main work was done before I arrived, and the official meeting was mainly a formality where they'd vote rapidfire.  Mostly, it was groupthink at play because they all agreed on what they were voting for, except for approving the minutes when one council member abstained.  Overall, they seemed like a dutiful group of folks, though, like most local governments, they were overly involved in other people's business (much of the meeting was based around telling people how they could build their buildings--the anarchist/libertarian streak in me made my scratch my head; short of making sure a building doesn't collapse, let people design their buildings how they want).  They even had a section of the meeting open to the public.  Nobody had any comments that night, but there were only some city administration in attendance, me, one woman who had a business or something where she needed a zoning variance, one man who was pissed off apparently from the earlier meeting and stuck around to glower at the council the rest of the evening, and one other woman who probably either was a volunteer for The League Of Women Voters or a newspaper reporter (she seemed to be taking notes) there (yes, Americans get the democracy our lazy asses deserve).  I myself took very few notes, but I did do some sketching, which gave me a great idea.  I mean why pay for a model in your art class or pay a few bucks to attend a Dr. Sketchy event in a bar (admittedly, there's alcohol and the subjects being sketched are probably better looking) when you could just get some free models at the city council meeting?  I mean drawing essentially a series of old, white men isn't the most exciting sketch subject matter in the world (arguably, a bowl of fruit still life might be more interesting just for the color variation), but you can't beat the price for life drawing!  Plus if you take notes as well, then you can send your notes to the community newspaper, so the rest of the community has an independent report of what went on at the council meeting.  All those in favor of occasionally attending a council meeting just to do some cartooning, say aye!  The ayes have it!

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

Sunday, March 19, 2023

New Recording!: "Bomb The Bombs"

The early- to mid-1980s were filled with great peace songs such as "It's A Mistake" by Men At Work and "99 Red Balloons" by Nena, which pointed out what a disaster it is to be playing around with nuclear weapons.  The end of the cold war lessened this concern, at least in the pop world, but, unfortunately, nukes are still around, and this is probably an even more dangerous time for us where they are concerned with the U.S. and Russia playing chicken over Ukraine and China gearing up for an invasion of Taiwan.  So as much as I'd rather be singing a silly love song, you get this ditty contemplating worldwide annihilation instead.  I'm semi-surprised we haven't destroyed civilization yet, but we should get serious about peace and get rid of these damned things worldwide before we do.  Musically, it's the usual voice, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums, but I had fun with some bleeps in the recording program.  You can hear a demo version and read the lyrics here.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Sourheart" on a recent playlist!

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

New Recording!: "Sourheart"

This one's a love gone wrong song and marvels at how people keep on trying to find love after multiple miserable experiences with it.  The mating instinct is strong, I suppose, not to mention the general human need to give and receive affection.  You can read what I wrote about the song when I wrote it and listen to the demo version here.  For the rerecording, it's the usual voice, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums here.  To spice it up, I used some slapping my thighs for additional percussion and had some fun with the synth settings on the keyboard.  The song has an early 1980 rock/new wave vibe that seems to call out for stuff like that.  After all, Fad Gadget's not around anymore to make new tracks, so someone has to do it.  I like how it came out.  I dig that heartbeat bass drum sound.  This would be the single if I were the record company releasing the album (since I am not, they're all singles since parents love all their children).  

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "One By One" on a recent playlist!

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

Thursday, March 2, 2023

New Recording!: "One By One"

This is the first rerecording of one of the demo songs where I just used guitar and vocals, so it's nice to hear it fleshed out.   You can hear the original here and read what I wrote about the song here.  It's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums.  I also used the keyboard for some percussion and pipe organ (the pipe organ might be my favorite setting for the keyboard actually).  This song isn't as good as "One On One" by Hall And Oates, but it's my second favorite two ones separated by a preposition song!  Speaking of Hall And Oates, the Callin' Oates hotline (719-26-OATES) was still going strong last I checked, and if I remember correctly, "One On One" was one of the song options.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "No Place To Do It" on a recent playlist!

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

New Recording!: "No Place To Do It"

This new version (you can hear the old one here and what I wrote about the song here) features some fun harmonica (it's what sounds like a dying dinosaur in the background), though I did enjoy the toy guitar on the demo version as well.  Otherwise, it's the usual voice, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums on the track in which a teenager laments the effect his lack of privacy has on his love life.  I always thought Mudhoney could do a great cover version of this one.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Rubber Ducks" on a recent playlist!

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

Friday, February 17, 2023

Your Predictions Were Wrong, But I Will Still Put You On Television And Let You Predict Some More

In October 2021, I saved an article about how we were through with the spread of Covid-19 because I wanted to see how the predictions bore out.  You can still read the article at  I was curious to see how the predictions panned out.

They panned out badly.

For example, Big Pharma Pimp Scott Gottlieb predicted in the article that "I’m of the opinion that this is the last major wave of infection."

A month later the Omicron variant appeared and drove the case report to new highs.


Well, Gottlieb did qualify his prediction with a "Barring something unexpected", but a new variant is hardly something unexpected when dealing with a virus.  Regardless, one would think the dude would lose some credibility by being so far off the mark.

Ah, but you see, we live in Joe Biden's America, where incompetence gets rewarded apparently, so a year later, Gottlieb was still appearing on CBS's Face The Nation, pimping for Big Pharma, and having his arse kissed by mainstream media (note in the appearance linked here [no human besides me also apparently read the transcript since it has items such as "faith in the nation" on it--she's saying "Face The Nation"] how he doesn't talk about how adding the Covid-19 vaccines to the childhood immunization schedule allows the pharmaceutical companies, primarily Pfizer and Moderna, to continue to be shielded from liability for vaccine-caused injuries/death once the vaccines' emergency authorization expires, which, call me cynical, probably explains more about the rush to put them on the childhood schedule than just getting indigent kids access to the vaccines--you can read more about that here).

The article's writer, David Leonhardt, fared about the same, writing, "Whatever the next few months bring, the worst of the pandemic is almost certainly behind us." 

Actually, the worst was ahead as far as cases went, though we can be somewhat charitable to Leonhardt in that deaths in the winter of 2021-2022 didn't quite reach the height of the deaths of the winter of 2021-2022.  He also seemed to think that the Covid-19 vaccines worked, writing, "Of the more than 700,000 Americans who have died from it, nearly 200,000 probably could have been saved if they had chosen to take a vaccine."

Yet, the vaccines weren't even approved in the States until mid-December 2020, by which point about 300,000 Americans had already died, and that's leaving aside the problems with categorizing deaths as caused by Covid when the person may have been infected with Covid but really died of something else (such as a gunshot wound), so Leonhardt is arguing that half of the 400,000 Americans who died of Covid from mid-December 2020 to early October 2021 could have been saved if they had taken the vaccine.  It's not clear where he gets those numbers from, but it hardly matters, as it soon became obvious that being vaccinated did nothing to prevent transmission and infection.  The best he could argue would be that vaccination prevented death, but on a statistical basis Covid-19 already had a case fatality rate of something akin to the flu even before the vaccines and that has not substantially changed since (you can read a debunking of a similar claim here).  At the time of the writing, it was already clear that the vaccines weren't what was hoped for (they have subsequently looked much worse as now people with multiple boosters are more likely to get infected and the mRNA vaccines seem to have serious side-effects including death), so Leonhardt should have known better even then.

So did Leonhardt have to eat crow or find a new job?

Nope, a year later he was still at The New York Times offering the same level of dumb commentary such as this one:  I mean call me crazy but I suspect the main reason that there's more deaths in Republican counties than Democratic counties is because people in rural counties (which skew Republican) are on average older than people in urban counties (which skew Democratic).  Someone should let Leonhardt know that older people die on average sooner than younger people do.  We could also let him know that viruses tend to spread faster in urban areas (which is why the virus deaths early on are concentrated in Democratic counties; the virus took longer to reach the rural areas).

Admittedly, predicting the future of a virus is difficult, but maybe the lesson is that one shouldn't act like one knows stuff one doesn't, or, worse, like some of these public health folks and panicked journalists have done, lie (reading books such as The Real Anthony Fauci, Pandemia, Gone Viral, and A Plague Upon Our House make it hard to take seriously anything coming out of a government agency or mainstream media where the virus panic is/was concerned).  It's no wonder trust in public health and mainstream journalism continues to decline.  At some point this must be mended.  A good start would be holding people accountable for their work.  If the boneheads making the predictions in this article aren't apologizing and trying to do better, then they shouldn't still be plaguing us with their ill-informed opinions and trying to mandate vaccines that don't work on children and promoting other daft ideas.  Instead, they're still shoved down the public's throat while anyone who is actually closer to reality gets treated like a dissident if not insane conspiracy theorist by people who don't also critically think and just pass on wholesale the opinions and talking points they get programmed with (American liberals unfortunately have been even more prone to this than American conservatives were in the last few years, which is unfortunate because in the past the liberals were usually a bit brighter; now, they seem to want to outcrazy the conservatives, all while trying to tell us how the conservatives are crazy).

Sigh.  I won't make any predictions on things actually changing for the better, but I sure hope they do.  Maybe if we all work together and more people start thinking for themselves, they will.

My latest novel, Fast Guy Slows Down, doesn't feature any predictions that I recall, but it does feature some laughs.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Comic: How Could I Forget Hotburger?

The latest comic is my first foray into multiple pages.  Hey, two is multiple!  Click on the images for a closer look.


For more fun, read the novel Fast Guy Slows Down!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

New Recording!: "Rubber Ducks"

For the new version of "Rubber Ducks" I used some actual rubber ducks.  That's the squeaking at the beginning and end (and probably in the middle as well, though they get drowned out by the other instruments there).  I also dropped them onto a snare drum and let them roll across it as an additional form of percussion.  I don't know that I'll ever be "playing" rubber ducks as an instrument again, but I was quite pleased how they rose to the occasion here.  Musically, otherwise, it's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums.  Here is what I wrote about the song when I first recorded it, and you can hear that version here (I like the xylophone on the demo).

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Ready For The Next" on a recent playlist!

Thanks to my pal Loren for rocking the same song on WQUD as well!

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

Monday, January 30, 2023

New Recording!: "Ready For The Next"

"Ready For The Next" is about a character ready for the next something in her/his life.  I wrote about it when it first was written here.  I still like it well enough that I decided to rerecord it.  You can here the demo version here.  For this version, I had some fun mumbling at the beginning about how this election will be the most important of a lifetime, which the media says about every election, and some other silly stuff.  When I wrote the song, many of us were ready to move on from the Trump administration; now, many of us are ready to move on from the Biden administration.  The old saying about how more things change, the more they stay the same comes to mind.  For the music, it's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums.  I dig that guitar riff at the beginning.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "Window Shopping" on a recent playlist!

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

Monday, January 16, 2023

New Recording!: "Window Shopping"

"Window Shopping" is about online dating, specifically the swipey cell phone apps such as Tinder and Bumble.  Some of the people on there, probably the majority I suspect, are just "window shopping" and have no intention of actually dating.  They like getting likes or whatnot to pump up the ego.  The dating apps are also interesting because how they make people disposable.  Why have a relationship when you can go on fifty first dates or one night stands?  The song has fun with those ideas utilizing the perspective of four characters, two females and two males, some of whom are gay and some of whom are straight (sorry, I couldn't fit asexuality or sapiosexuality or polyamory or whatever the latest thing is in as I didn't want the song to be too long).  This is a rerecording of a song from about five years ago.  You can read about the song here and listen to the previous demo here.  Though I dug the toy piano on the previous recording, for this one I opted for the standard keyboard.  Otherwise, it's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums (the keyboard drums plus the lid of a cookie tin).  I like to think that if Kurt Cobain had lived, divorced Courtney, and tried online dating, this is something like what he might have come up with (only his would be better--hey, at least, you have me still).

Thanks to my The Tinnitist for including "Happy Hour Made Me Unhappy" (though for some reason he went for the demo version from 2017) on a recent playlist!

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

Monday, January 9, 2023

New Recording!: "Happy Hour Made Me Unhappy"

"Happy Hour Made Me Unhappy" was originally a poem, but I figured it would work better as a song, so I wrote some music for it a few years later.  It was the first song I wrote after a couple years of being away from writing songs and playing music, and I suppose I was easing my way back into things by only having to write the music for lyrics that already existed.  I haven't had a dry period since, but there's nothing wrong with the occasional field lying fallow, so I don't really mind them.  I learned long ago how to hack out a song if I needed to, but I'd rather wait for and nurture the good ones along.  There's something to the Guided By Voices approach of write lots and let the cream come to the top (though GBV seems to ultimately release everything), but I prefer the opposite approach of trying to make every song count.  There's an earlier noisy demo version of "Happy Hour" you can read about at and hear at Soundcloud (  As I wrote then, "I suppose it's a bit of a murder ballad, but it's not technically a ballad.  The singer of the song should definitely have just DTMFA, as Dan Savage would say (Google it if you don't know), and gone on Tinder.  Instead, he's going to jail."  I also had an earlier ep of the same title, but, like Elvis Costello sometime did, I didn't write the song until later.  This is the first track from this year's album of rerecordings, entitled Noisy And Not So Noisy, covering the songs from 2017 to 2020 or so that didn't get the full treatment then.  Musically, it's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums (or drum as I decided to let the weird instrument provide any non-snare percussion).  For the weird instrument this time, I "played" a 1996 Taco Bell Star Wars toy of the Millennium Falcon that made a cool enough noise that I made it the main percussion.

Thanks to my pal Loren in Iowa for playing "Smooth Jazz Riot" on his best of 2022 radio show!

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

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

What Wred's Reading: The Risk Pool By Richard Russo

I like to read while I eat sometimes.  Usually, I buy a newspaper or magazine because if I spill ketchup on an article about Donald Trump or The Cleveland Browns, who cares?  It's going in the recycling bin shortly anyway (don't worry, recyclers, I'll try to scrape that ketchup off to make your job easier).  Recently, I couldn't find a decent magazine to read at the few remaining stores who carry magazines, and I was tired of spending $5 for a 3-page newspaper, so I figured I'd just buy a book and rip it up so it laid flat (it's annoying when the books flop over, and I have to use my greasy hands to find my place again).  So I browsed the local Goodwill bookstore to find a book that was interesting and wasn't an expensive first edition anyone would weep over if I ripped it up for easier mealside reading.  Fortunately, Russo's book flips and flops nicely, so it lays flat for the most part, so I haven't had to rip it up, which means it can go to another reader when I'm done.  

That is nice because it's a good book.  Russo's early work is like if Ray Carver wrote novels instead of short stories and skipped all the Gordon Lish editing that gave his work that minimalistic style that made the critics swoon and Carver weep.  Books such as this one, Mohawk, and Nobody's Fool are all nice slice of life stories about life in the rustbelt, with that specific rustbelt being upstate New York USA in the mid to late 20th century.

Russo loses it in his later work.  Presumably, he's mined his youth for all the novelistic possibilities and like many academic writers has little else subject matter to write about (though Straight Man is up there with White Noise for academic satires written by Italian-American straight male writers in the 1980s and 1990s though--admittedly a small demographic).  After Empire Falls, his last good novel, you can skip the rest of his output and not miss much.  Everybody's Fool, the sequel to Nobody's Fool, is particularly dreadful (Russo seems to just smoosh time together in it, aging characters for drama's sake, which considering he writes in a realistic mode, is quite jarring--I forget the exact details, but that's only because I've attempted to blot it from my mind in the same way that some Star Wars fans pretend only the first three movies exist, as in first three released, not the later prequels)--and it looks like Russo's continued to be out of ideas as his next novel is a sequel to that one called Somebody's Fool.


Anyway, don't let his later work scare you off from his earlier work, which is quite good, like a Dickens writing in the 20th Century, just good old-fashioned storytelling.  The Risk Pool, a story about a boy's relationship with his never-do-well father, was the only one of his early books that I never read, so I'm glad to be reading it (I probably got scared away from other Russo books after reading Bridge Of Sighs, another awful later book, or something).

For a book probably not as good as Russo's earlier work but probably better than his later work, please read Fast Guy Slows Down.