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July Write-O-Rama 13: Variety Tonight

Here is a song that is your soundtrack for this one. I don't know why. I was trying to think of a title for this post and I remembered the old REO Speedwagon song, Variety Tonight. This post is full of variety and it was written tonight so there you go.

A DAY IN THE LIFE: It is Monday again and finally at 8:09pm I get to sit down with the laptop and type this out.

This day was crazy busy. I was back at work after being off Thursday and Friday and today coincided with starting on some reports that I work on, one that comes along every six weeks and another one that comes along every three months. I finished the six week one. The every three months on will take a few weeks of work to complete but I got a good start on it today and tomorrow I will start isolating and comparing data. That’s about all I can say about that.

I made one trip to the high school and I have to go back there tomorrow night for a meeting. I made two trips to the storage space the band rents and finally got a few totes full of band stuff out of our living room and into the storage space so our living room is starting to look like a living room again.

I put gas in daughter #2’s car. I also drove to Home Depot to drop off two cheddar biscuits for daughter #1.

I washed three loads of clothes and cleaned both showers. I started the dishwasher this afternoon but wife #1 emptied it so I didn’t have to do that.

I packed up some old pool stuff and moved it all to the garage and started feeling out the neighbors to see if any of them want it all. My days of putting up a pool are over. OVER! It’s too much work for too little reward.

I didn’t get to read any of the book I am currently reading, Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami but I hope to have a bit of time to read after I get done with this.

I did file away a couple of weeks of paperwork including paperwork for my daughter’s hit and run and my father’s monthly benefit statements.

I did not have time to look up daughter #1’s classes to see if there are any books we can go ahead and hunt down cheap before everyone starts looking for them. That task is number one on my list for tomorrow.

MORE ON MICROTHOUGHTS: In Discord, I sent a message to @altmilan about how I’ve been using micro.blog and that I am considering leaving special.fish and going there but the more I looked at micro.blog today, the more it felt like a blur of microthoughts (see yesterday’s post) and the replies on there are overwhelming with conversations not exactly easy to follow so I will be making no immediate decision on that. For now, I find that I am not contributing to micro.blog or Twitter but I am still keeping up my daily special.fish log updates each morning so maybe that’s I sign that I need to stay put. It’s amazing with all I am writing here that I have anything left in my brain to write anywhere else.

PODCASTING: This week, I will be recording episode 500 of the podcast. I think this will happen either Wednesday or Thursday but who knows. I know I will be too busy tomorrow to even consider doing it.

I found a new podcast on micro.blog so I did accomplish something there. Call it a personal journal podcast or unprofessional but it is a lot like what I and others do. You should give it a try. It’s called Get on and Shine with Holly Honeychurch. The feed is at https://blog.hollyhoneychurch.com/feed.xml and the podcast site is at https://blog.hollyhoneychurch.com/categories/podcast/

TOMORROW’S WEATHER: It’s going to be crazy hot tomorrow. It was hot today but tomorrow is crazy hot. We typically get just a handful of crazy hot days each year and it’s a bit discouraging to be getting them in mid-July since we usually get them in mid-August. At least it’s going to be dry for a few days. We need a break from the barrage of rain we’ve dealt with lately.

FITNESS CORNER: I need to be out walking again. In fact, I WANT to be out walking again. I’ve made a point of doing two things. First, I turned on all of the fitness features of my Apple Watch again after they have been off for months. I was brainwashed by the step counting of my previous Fitbits and was having a hard time getting used to how the Apple Watch hides steps but tracks Calories, minutes of exercise and standing each hour instead. Now I am giving it a full try and today, just from what I did around the house, I exceeded my calories burned goal. Like I said, it was a busy day. I am always doing something, it seems.

Second, I am going to start tracking my weight closer, hopefully weighing in daily. I was happily surprised this morning to discover I’ve lost even more weight since winter than I expected but I have a long way to go.

CORONANEWS: Corona is still spreading, of course. This is not going to change any time soon. Aside from the employees and one other customer, I was the only one wearing a mask tonight. Two guys, probably in their late 20’s or early 30’s, were returning something and laughing it up and acting incredibly immature for their age sans mask. Double gross.

I am hoping we can have a semi-normal year at school. I know it won’t be anywhere close to normal normal but semi-normal is enough. I just have a feeling that it’s probably not going to happen.

CLOSING: In closing, that’s it for tonight. There is so much I could comment on here such as what is going on in the world and in politics but I won’t. You get enough of that in other places, don’t you? I know I do.

July Write-O-Rama 12: Feed fatigue

Waving to you from a very rainy Sunday evening here in Armpit. I am awake probably thanks to the Red Bull slush I had this afternoon at Sonic. Hopefully I will stay awake for the 700 or so words I am about to type out on the ‘ol writing laptop. As I write, I am in my recliner (purchased at the now gone local K-Mart on Thanksgiving night probably ten or more years ago) with the laptop on my trusty red lapdesk and my trusty red lapdesk propped up on a pillow that is horribly ugly and completely falling apart but perfect for propping things up on so it will continue to be used until it does completely fall apart or I give in and beg someone to sew up the holes so the stuffing stops falling out.

No, I do not know how to sew. I can change out the guts in a toilet and digitize VCR tapes but I cannot sew. Maybe I need to take up sewing and sew this pillow myself. Hmmm. Will need to add that to my Todoist.

Hold on – I need to get the attention train back on the track. I was trying to completely set the mood so you can duplicate my writing environment if you want to. Sure, with K-Mart mostly gone, you can’t get the exact same chair and this exact same laptop is only available used now although you can buy the new version of it for $700, I think. But you can listen to the music I am listening to yet again, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEvM-OUbaKs, also known as Coffee Jazz Music – Chill Out Lounge Jazz Music Radio – 24/7 Live Stream – Slow Jazz. It’s perfect for getting in the zone and typing like crazy and probably sounding like I’m crazy when you read this.

I do have a topic on my mind tonight and it partly has to do with my love/hate Twitter relationship that I have been beating into the ground for years. Twitter is filled with ads and the trends suck so I decided to start looking around for a better yet similar service, a service with less ads and trends and suck. I found that service over at micro.blog but I am still not on a paid account there. I am supporting special.fish on Patreon which is completely unlike both Twitter and micro.blog.

And, I feel like I should be supporting micro.blog on the opening tier, $5 a month, because the service really is like Twitter without all of the suck. The conversation is so much better because these people want to be there and most pay to be there. There is a free way to be there (self-hosting) which, as I noted in an earlier post, is not exactly simple. I am going the free way for now because as much as I like micro.blog, my problem with both Twitter and micro.blog is that micro thoughts are starting to wear me out. I have feed fatigue. Scrolling down endless pages of micro thoughts is overwhelming. I want to spend time at a site. I want to get to know whoever is writing. Being an avid book reader, I am happier reading something with a bit more substance.

What micro.blog gets right is how longer messages are allowed, you just have to click the link at the end of the message that pops up on the feed to read them. The messages can go on and on and the micro.blog site (or self-hosted site) allows you to write as much as you want. Only the feed is limited in characters. And, I’ve found some really cool stuff at micro.blog so I am keeping my account active and, who knows, I might plunk down the money one day and even start blogging over there full time. It’s possible. But for now, I am just uncertain about not only absorbing more micro thoughts but also contributing my own. Isn’t the world busy enough as it is?

This is why taking Twitter off of my phone has been so enlightening. I am out and about during the day and I reach for the phone instinctively to share something on Twitter before I realize that I cannot since the app is not there and then I think about how dumb and pointless what I was going to share was and how I just saved myself from contributing to the noise which we have too much of anyway.

So, aside from the suck on Twitter which I have pretty much learned to live with and ignore, it’s really the feed fatigue from the infinite number of micro thoughts that I realize is truly the issue especially now that I have experienced the same feed fatigue on a different and improved take on the same type of service. And I realize it doesn’t do any good to quit Twitter and join another service that creates the same level of fatigue.

But I do still enjoy Twitter to a certain point and I think micro.blog is great. I will continue to use both but in moderation and I believe I will use micro.blog more and more and Twitter less and less.

Enough about that. BAG UPDATE!

After getting rid of bags and finally thinking I had tackled the bag habit, another bag has entered the house but this one feels like a logical, correct decision  instead of the desire to buy another bag when I already had bags that would perform the exact same function.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a slip case for the writing laptop which is a 13.3 inch laptop. I have a couple of 15.6 inch slip cases which are way too big so I ordered a 13.3 inch slipcase off of Amazon. When it arrived, the AmazonBasics 13.3 inch slipcase was about 3 millimetres too small for the laptop. It would almost zip shut and would zip shut if I forced it but I didn’t want to do that. I returned it and then found the Targus TCT027US Classic Slim Briefcase. It was $13 more than the slipcase but had great reviews and it looked like a bag where the writing laptop could permanently live so it can be transported to the library and the coffee shop in 2022 or so when coronavirus might have a vaccine and enough people might actually take it.

I was most intrigued with the front pocket which expands out from the briefcase when you unzip it. It arrived and wow, what a great bag and that front pocket is perfect for the laptop power supply and any other small items you need to carry around. The bag is very compact and light and one day in the future I will share some pictures of it. I am very happy with the purchase and am almost considering getting a similar Targus backpack and replacing the other backpacks I have which would take me down to just three laptop bags – my work backpack, a backpack for personal stuff and this slim briefcase. Wouldn’t that be something? It’s tempting but I’m still pondering over it.

I feel like between this laptop, the stickers I covered the laptop lid with and the Targus bag, I have made serious, concrete investments in writing and so far, it seems to be working. I am more motivated to write than I have been in a long time and it doesn’t hurt that I am not trying to write fiction I have no business writing but am instead writing about who I am and what I know. For me, non-fiction seems to be the way to go.

I think that’s enough words for tonight. In case you missed it or didn’t miss it but have forgotten since the world is on fire with terrible news, the Write-O-Rama is a daily writing exercise I am doing this month as part of Camp NaNoWrimo.

July Write-O-Rama - Falling asleep while writing

7/11/2020 9080

How will this turn into work for me?

The topic of today’s post, at least to start, is a question I ask myself a lot. When the phone rings. When someone needs something we have in storage in the hot attic. When the neighbor is going to be out of town for a week. When a package is scheduled to arrive. How will this turn into work for me?

It alway somehow does turn into work for me. Earlier today, I was in the super hot attic pulling down a tote containing a cheap pool that someone is going to borrow for the week instead of going out and buying their own cheap pool that they can store in the attic for whenever they might need it. I am not even sure how this pool was offered up. Was this person talking about their stay at home, corona ruins everything vacation and then this person said, “You know what would make my vacation acceptable? A $15 dollar, one year old pool that has been in a tote in someone’s attic since last summer!” and then my wife hit the buzzer of turning this into work for me. BBBBBBBBBUUUUUUUUUUUUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Winner!

If my phone rings at an odd time of the day and my father is on the caller ID, I know this call is most likely going to lead to work for me. A commercial on tv for something that mentioned the VA (I know it was not the VA themselves because they don’t have commercials) leads to months of applying for VA benefits even though he financially does not qualify for them. Or, the toilet won’t stop running! Or, every store here is out of daily shower cleaner. WORK FOR ME!

Today, I finally mowed after putting it off for as long as possible and I decided I would go right to the couch for the remainder of the night once the mowing was done and any other outside chores were complete and I went up into the attic for the cheap pool and then I took my shower and then I ate supper and after that, to the couch! I am writing this on the couch on the sticker covered laptop (see last post) resting on a red lap desk I’ve had for ten or twenty years, who knows and I was just now interrupted and informed that the tote I brought down from the super hot attic is in fact the incorrect tote and now I get to go back into the super hot attic again and look for whatever pool might be hiding up there and how many pools could possibly be up there? Five? Ten? If our garage was bigger, I wouldn’t have to store stuff like this in the attic. If the shed had more shelving, I could keep all of this kind of stuff out there.

An attic is an enabler. It enables you to store a huge room full of crap that you can’t figure out what to do with or that you only use one time a year. Pools – summer. Christmas decorations – Christmas. Halloween decorations – we stopped pulling those down three years ago. Same for Easter decorations. I look forward to not pulling down the Christmas decorations. Christmas is the most stubborn of holidays. If you don’t decorate for Christmas, you are a Grinch. If you don’t decorate for Halloween, no one notices or cares. If I didn’t put up the Christmas tree or a line of lights down the driveway, what would people think?!?

I am the only person that doesn’t care what people think? OK, I lie, I care what a few people think but not rando strangers that drive by my house. I don’t care in the slightest if they are offended by my lack of decorations. I mowed today in super hot heat, not because I cared what the neighbors would think if I kept letting it go but because the mower might not make it through the grass without choking if I kept letting it go and it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.

You may wonder if I wonder what people think of these posts. I don’t. There is your answer. These are merely an exercise in writing and doing it regularly for at least the month of July. I don’t care if anyone reads them. My goal is to have 20,000 words of posts by the end of July and I’m ahead according to the stats if I maintain consistency. I would rather finish up early than take a few days off now and start to get too confident about my writing ability.Last night and tonight I almost took an evening off but here I am pushing through anyway because I know I need to keep this up even though I am so tired that it is hard to hold eyes open and it’s only 8PM.

Wouldn’t it be great to not be sick and to go to bed at 8pm? I’m not sick, just tired and I could close the laptop and go in the bedroom and be out within minutes but then I would probably wake up at 3am unable to go back to sleep and that would big time stink. I mention sickness because sickness seems to be the only time we can expand our sleep schedules and that is a shame. I think we need sleep vacations. Sleep all you want and have the concierge or someone else order up food.

I just sat starting at  word counter for a few minutes when I was at 9,999 words so far in this document. My goal is 20,000 words for the month and I am halfway there and it’s only 7/11/2020. Remember when 7-11 used to celebrate this day with special sales and events? It was a pretty smart tie-in and now I am really falling asleep so I need to save this document, close it in Word and go from there.


July Write-O-Rama 10: Pink pill Benadryl coma

I almost didn’t write this one today. I am getting it in starting at 9:15pm so plenty of time, right? Unfortunately, I also have absolutely no topic. I am, as often happens with the podcast, winging it. I think if I start typing, the flow will kick in and the words will just come out. We’ll see how that turns out. I could have started on this an hour ago but Don Giller posted the Late Night with David Letterman 5th Anniversary Special on YouTube so I had to watch some of that, of course. Sure, I saw it when it came on way back in 1987 and I’m sure I taped it on the VCR and watched it a few times afterward but I haven’t seen it in a long, long time and it sort of sucked me in.

And a bit earlier than that, I watched three episodes of Emergency! in a row. Season 1, episodes 1-3. They were such a big change from the end of the series which, starting with season 6, was really phoning it in. In episodes 1 and 2 of the series, we were shown a glimpse of their personal lives and even got to see Roy’s wife. Although she was referred to many times in the series, she was never shown again and I don’t know why the character’s personal lives weren’t a bigger part of the show. It would have broken the monotony of one rescue after another and given the characters a bit of depth but I assume Jack Webb was against it. It’s a shame because season 6 is full of episodes that are a lot like other episodes just slightly retooled.

In the made for tv movies, counted as season 7, it appears that they were trying to recreate Emergency! in San Francisco with more visibility of the character’s private lives but it didn’t go anywhere and in 1979, the show was over for good and the two main stars never did anything as huge again which is a shame. They both seemed to have a ton of potential to move on to other shows.

But enough about Emergency! I am almost done with my complete rewatch and then it will be time to take naps in the place of when I typically watched episodes.

No naps today. I packed up the car with all of my tools this morning and picked up my father-in-law and his tools and then drove to my father’s house to tackle his toilet. We ended up only needing the fill valve, which I replaced probably 15 or so years ago and I didn’t need any of the tools, a Buick trunk full, that we brought. Total cost of the job - $8 plus my priceless time and $1.96 a gallon gas. We went to a local seafood restaurant for a victory lunch and returned to Armpit.

When I got home, the last sticker I ordered for my laptop had arrived and it was time to watch Emergency! and arrange and then place the stickers to this laptop, the writing laptop. Yay!

That’s when I started watching three episodes of Emergency! and put off mowing yet again because it was too hot and I am too lazy. I think I need a full night of sleep tonight so I might self-medicate with a Benadryl right before bedtime and enjoy the pink pill coma for the night. That would be nice. I am nodding off just thinking about it.

In other news, coronavirus is closing in on me. I went into a bit of detail in our private Discord. I can’t go into any here in public other than to say it hasn’t closed in on me completely yet but the circle is shrinking and it’s getting closer and closer.

As I write this, I am listening to one of the streaming You Tube channels I found, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEvM-OUbaKs . I don’t know how channels like this are legal or how they make money (Nothing is free!) but I enjoy this channel especially. Other streaming services like Pandora and Spotify have way too many ads. I know – Nothing is free! They have to have ads. True, but do they have to be after every other song? I guess that’s how radio works so maybe I just answered by own question.

It’s going to be hot again tomorrow but maybe just an iota less humid and I am going to have to mow because it’s almost at the height where I cannot put it off any longer unless I want the mower to get stuck. And, it just looks bad. We don’t want to be the bad people who never mow of the neighborhood. They will talk about it on the private neighborhood Facebook group I refuse to join and on NextDoor, the gossip site for nosy neighbors that I refuse to sign up for. Talk about me all you want, neighbors! I don’t care! I have enough social media as it is. I have no room for any more.

I guess that’s about it. I got in one of the library holds I thought would take weeks to show up so I charged up the Kindle and have read only about 10 pages so I need to get going on that tomorrow. I also haven’t recorded the podcast this week so I would like to do that tomorrow also. By the time I think about doing it, it is so hot outside that I can’t stand sitting out on the deck so maybe I will wake up at 3AM tonight and get it done. I guess that won’t happen if I am in the pink pill Benadryl coma. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions….

July Write-O-Rama 9: Event Gravity

My father called me Saturday evening to let me know the toilet in the master bedroom would not shut off and that the knob on the supply line was stuck or possibly even seized in place so he couldn’t turn off the toilet. I said not to worry. There is another toilet in the house and this one is rarely used. Just rig the handle to stop the water and I will fix it next time I am down, either today or tomorrow.

We talked about how long ago it had been since I last fixed replaced the toilet guts and we’re thinking at least fifteen years or maybe just a little more recently. However, I have zero memory of actually doing it. I do remember taking the shelf that fits in around the toilet out of the bathroom so I would have more room. I remember asking my parents not to stand around in the bedroom so I could just do the work unsupervised. That always used to drive me nuts. And I remember putting the shelf back when I was done. However, none of the actual toilet repair remains in my memory.

This reminds me of another occurrence of the same sort of memory lapse that popped up recently and I probably wrote about it here or talked about it on the podcast. I’m too lazy to research it but I’m sure I shared it somewhere. I recently saw myself on a videotape from 1991 with absolutely no memory of being at the event (a high school football game) where I was videotaped. I even talk directly to the person holding the camera a few times yet the whole night is gone from my mind. I was surprised when he zoomed in on me standing on the track during the performance. I was there? Where did all of these memories go?

It’s like I don’t even know myself. I wonder what else has slipped away or is it perfectly normal to forget days like these, returning to high school the year after graduation or fixing a toilet. Do the big things in life blot out the small things so we lose the day to day and along with it a sense of who we were? How can I reconcile who I am now if I can’t remember a lot of the details of who I was to begin with?

My mind is filled with mundane facts. I can tell you a lot about music from the 80’s. I know a lot about our different computer setups at work. But if I think of a random year, say 1993, there is not a whole lot I can tell you specific about it. I can even look at pictures and have them not jog specific memories. Well, look at me at the beach in 1993! Who would have thought it!

Does all of this mean I am losing my mind? I hope not. I think it’s best to not be burdened with a lot of the details from the past as they pile up more and more with each passing day.

I know that when I think back to the toilet repair, my mother was there and she has been gone for a little over four years and really was not herself the final year of her life either and the years and then final months of her illness and decline seem to overshadow the better memories because they were the most recent memories and they were relentless, tough years. I recently saw a picture that reminded me how I spent my birthday at the emergency room with my mother in 2013 and she kept apologizing for ruining my birthday and this was before things got really bad.

Having our focus distorted by the last few years or months of bad things reminded me of a quote I shared on the blog back in 2017 from Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky. The quote is about suicide which I unfortunately have experience with also but I think it could also apply to situations like my mother’s cancer if you swapped out the word suicide with the words terminal illness:

Suicide is such a powerful end, it reaches back and scrambles the beginning. It has an event gravity: Eventually, every memory and impression gets tugged in its direction.

There is a lot of truth in that quote for me. It resonates because I find myself looking back at the memory of my mother through the fog of those last, terrible months and as bad as they were for me, they were much worse for her. It seemed incredibly unfair and out of control and keeping going through it took a mental and physical toll on me that I still deal with today and most likely will until the end of my life.

Loss never really goes away. You fill the void the best you can and you learn to live with it. At the end of this month, Stacey will be gone for thirty years. I wrote about that here ten years ago and it’s almost surprising to me that another decade has passed but I say almost surprising because it’s not really surprising at all. As you get older, I think you have to either have to develop an understanding about how quickly time seems to fly by or it will drive you nuts. 50 is out there for me, not far off and I’m at the point in life when I have been thinking more and more about what I would like to accomplish before possibilities and even abilities start to be lost.

Stacey’s suicide was a defining moment in my life. We were both so young back in the summer of 1990 and she has missed out on so much that I would not want to have missed out on. But with time, I stopped focusing on her final act and final hours. I returned to the end over and over for a long time but it’s so far back that now I just think of who she was and who she might have been. They say time heals but I think really that time just changes the way you look at things because time leaves you no choice. You are powerless against it and eventually you simply accept that fact. And eventually I will find the same reconciliation in what happened with my mother. At just over four years, little bits and pieces break through. The event gravity is losing its strength and more bits and pieces of the not as recent pass make it through all the time. I hope this process happens faster so I don’t completely lose memories that right now are just beyond the fog of the frustration and sadness of those last few months.

As I was finishing up this one, my wife came home from work during lunch break and said she had been calling and texting was afraid she would find me out in the floor. Nope, I just forgot to turn the ringer back on and am not wearing my Apple Watch today since I don’t care about notifications on my day off. I mention this to commemorate being at the age where it’s possible I might be out in the floor if I don’t answer my phone. I guess I’m not far off from having to buy a Life Alert!

July Write-O-Rama 8: The garbage music tsunami of 1986

(A note: since this is basically a writing exercise for Camp NaNoWriMo, no real editing has been done and most of this was written continuously in one sitting. Any mistakes or wrong facts are due to me just taking quick glances at Wikipedia and relying on my sometimes faulty memory.)

Today I take a break for exhausting details about my boring life in order to write four three songs that I believe (YMMV) killed 80’s music in the terrible year of transition between good 80’s music and terrible 80’s music, 1986.

Yes, if a version of American Pie was written to discuss what happened to 80’s music, 1986 would be known as the year the music died.

To be fair, there are a lot of bad songs in 1986 and the years that followed plus some good ones sprinkled in and you might choose other songs that accelerated the demise of 80’s music as we knew it but I think these four songs were the most highly visible of the bunch and because of them, the days of being able to listen to American Top 40 start to finish and only hear a handful of bad songs came to an end in 1986. The tide soon turned to songs that must have driven poor Casey Kasem insane. Think of how many times the poor man had to listen to The Fat Boys version of Wipeout. Horrible.

These four songs unknowingly brought in three genres of bad 80’s music. On their own, two are good songs so it’s not like they were bad and they reproduced their badness to ruin music. Two are horrible. They were horrible then and are still horrible now but even those two songs were better than the ilk they helped raise out of the landfill of obscurity to end up being played on top 40 stations across America and, in some cases, around the world.

Song number one opened the door to brainless bubble gum garbage that persisted into the early 1990’s. That song is True Blue by Madonna. This was a shocking development because the album True Blue contains the Madonna classics Papa Don’t Preach and Live to Tell and the song Open Your Heart which was ahead of its time and sounds to me like something more from the mid 90’s than the late 80’s. It was a sign of what was to come from Madonna.

True Blue, however, is truly horrible and it’s surprising to me that Madonna co-wrote it. Of course, it was a huge hit just like La Isla Bonita, also on the same album and while not a good song, not nearly as bad as True Blue.

True Blue kicked the door down for Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, two who were heavy players in 80’s bubble gum pop music but I must note here that the Debbie Gibson songs are the best of the genre. They are well-written, well-sung and complex and when I hear them today, they hold up. The problem was really the Debbie Gibson wannabe’s and how this also allowed other teenagers with no business in the music business to get recording contracts. A whole wave of bad music from young acts suddenly exploded on the charts and the gullible ate it all up, squeezing good music out, leaving it to collect dust in bins at Camelot Music and Sam the Record Man.

Songs two and three were almost equally responsible for bringing in a genre of dark music, music the oracle refers to as new wave or synth pop although most of the wannabe songs that followed were really neither. They were just moody, reflective, pointless trash. The shame here is that one of these songs was and still is a classic of the time while the other one is just cringe-worthy depressing crap, making it a perfect anthem for the Reagan years.

Speaking of cringe-worthy depressing crap, song two is Life in a Northern Town by The Dream Academy and it landed on the US charts in the late fall of 1985 and carried over right into the horrible year of 1986. It set the tone for the winter and I remember the winter being particularly brutal probably because they played this song over and over on the radio.

I blame this song for what happened next. Record producers started scouring the archives for songs to get into the US market that fit this same kind of dark, moody vibe that was suddenly popular. Thus enter song three, the champion of synth-pop, West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys. On its own, I think it is a great song and that’s why it spurred on years of attempted sound-a-likes and an invasion of Euromusic on the US pop charts.

West End Girls was originally released in 1984 and didn’t do much but it was perfect for 1986. We were ready for it thanks to The Dream Academy.

It was huge in 1986, going all the way up to #1. And more dusty records found their way back to the radio. UB40’s horrible Red Red Wine from 1983 reemerged in 1988 in the US. The band Breathe arrived in America in 1988 thanks to recordings made mostly in 1985. And let’s not forget the absolutely terrible Benny Mardones song Into the Night which was originally recorded in 1980 and then re-recorded and released in 1989.

So, between these three songs, the charts got flooded with a lot of terrible, terrible music but we still have one more song to go, a song that brought us so much garbage that it should be ashamed forever. The song responsible for Casey Kasem having to introduce The Fat Boys with The Beach Boys on AT40 plus numerous other terrible sound-a-likes. That song all released in the worst year for music in history, 1986, is Walk This Way by Run DMC and Aerosmith. 

Again, this is not a bad song. It’s a classic and Run DMC did not contribute to the bad music trend. They just opened the door to it. More like kicked the door open so hard it shattered and in came in so much bad music that most people my age ended up moving to country music in the early 90’s.

Young MC – Bust a Move? Anything by Tone Loc? The king of trash, Vanilla Ice? I could go on and on. Mainstream America embraced a lot of crap rap while the good stuff could not be played on the radio.

And thus the death knell rang out for great 80’s music. Bubble gum, synth pop and crap rap took over the airwaves. Former morning show radio stars moved on to oldies stations. My generation turned off the radio and installed cassette players and then CD players in their cars and patiently waited for the internet to revolutionize music forever. Robots and voice tracking took over radio for good in recent years. The industry never recovered from the garbage music tsunami that started in 1986 and neither did my ears.


July Write-O-Rama 7: The Information Had Edges

Here it is the end of the day and I am just now sitting down at the writing laptop to type out today’s post. Obviously, this will be another blog-type post since it is too late to coherently think about a particular theme or idea the entire time. Why did this happen? I went back to work, for starters. And work was busy today. So busy that I had next to no free time even during lunch. I am still operating the daughter #1 taxi service plus there were more clothes to wash plus today was clean the showers day so there went lunch. Right after work, I had my first haircut in two months and I definitely needed it. Then I had to run a car load of stuff up to the band room for the special coronavirus edition of the band banquet we are going to have three months later than planned. Finally, daughter #1 taxi service (me) picked up daughter #1 and we went out to supper since daughter #2 and wife were both tied up. I came home to a dishwasher to empty, more clothes to put up, my father’s bills to add to the list, corrections to make on the band Facebook videos I have been digitizing and stuff to add to the grocery list.

Reading back through this, I appear to be quite busy.

This morning, I saw Michael Donaldson’s post on micro.blog which led me to Craig Mod’s article How I Got My Attention Back and I remembered I had read it before and there is a lot of good stuff in it.

In fact, the title of this post comes from that article, contained in this quote:

Returning to those (mythical?) halcyon minimalist information days: You could read all of the news in a single day. Grab the two or three papers and read. The information had edges; it could be understood by a single human over one cup of first-wave coffee. Were you insatiable, the library was available to dig deep on the topics of the day.

But just the four words is all you need to explain the difference between when I was born to about twenty-four years old versus now. The information had edges.

Today and since about 1997, the information has been non-stop. 9/11 accelerated it just like the Kennedy assassination accelerated it in 1963. In fact, I find watching the YouTube videos of the news from November 22, 1963 fascinating because we are seeing a transformation of how news was delivered on both radio and television.

Until about fifteen years ago, I subscribed to the morning newspaper and it was still my primary source of daily news. I cancelled my subscription because the delivery people kept missing my house and I kept having to call three or four days a week to get credit. Life without a newspaper is not the same because I replaced the paper with my laptop then phone and our phones are the always on gateway to a never ending stream of information with breaking news coming in almost instantly and it’s really too much. It makes me anxious because it is infinite and because we never know what terrible thing is waiting for us when we unlock the screen.

So I have done my best over the last few months to minimize opening the apps like Twitter and to minimize the endless, mindless scrolling when I do open apps and by doing so, I miss some things. My father called me yesterday to tell me Charlie Daniels died. He heard it on the radio. I was digitizing videotapes and had on streaming music and no other devices. For most of the day, I was free of the stream and I was quite productive because of it.

What good does it do to be always on? Shouldn’t we be on less and alone with our thoughts more?

Michael Davidson also linked to The Attention Manifesto which is perfect. I want to print it out and hang it above my desk so I don’t forget it.

I need all of this but I am also guilty of pulling people into the overflow of information. I will post this on my blog. It will autotweet. The act of reading this is a total timesuck. You may get something out of it. You may not. You may just skim it or barely glance add it but it has disrupted the flow of whatever you are doing. I keep digitizing band videos and posting them in our alumni group on Facebook and Facebook is a pretty horrible place for a lot of reasons so I am also posting the videos on archive.org for people who want an alternative but the main links still pull people into Facebook and I feel guilty about all of it. I don’t want to waste your time or mine. I want us all to be creating, producing or just existing. There is no need to be dialed into the bombardment all of the time. It’s not healthy and I don’t like being responsible for diverting your attention to rabbit holes that pull you in and do their best to not let go.

We all end up there from time to time. I had high hopes last night that I would do something other than lay on the couch looking at my iPad and guess where I ended up. Why? Because I was tired and the iPad seems to be mindless. Of course, it’s not. My brain kept spinning with images and information long after I closed the iPad and no wonder. So then I get to feel the effects today of one hour or more less sleep yesterday. I am feeling it right now and I should go to bed but I want to finish this entry and keep the work going. I don’t want to get behind because I don’t want to end up missing the goal but even as I type, my eyes are getting heavier and I keep swaying my head back and forth to shake it off.