Entry 0050: A Side/B Side Vacation 2015


LP: Grande Liquidação by Tom Zé

2011 Mr Bongo MRBLP075, Rozenblit LP50.010

Favorite Track: Quero Sambar Meu Bem

On the way to the airport in Hebron, KY, the TANK bus broke down on the side of the highway. My head drooped onto the crook of my elbow, hair pricking my skin keeping me awake. Not now, I thought and stared at the flat surface of grass alongside the hot pavement. Nobody else seemed to mind as if this kind of thing happens regularly.

Within minutes, a new bus pulled up and we got on and sat in identical seats. The next exit, the bus veered into the road leading to the airport. I had plenty of time before my flight to eat and to start reading Tampa by Alissa Nutting.

I was about to go on vacation: to get away from the frustration of failing to land a full-time library position; to see my parents who were traveling from Alaska on that same day; to visit a host of friends living in Portland; to go record shopping; to hike through the tall hemlocks and douglas firs; to simply not be in Cincinnati for a week.

The vacation started in Seattle at the Maxwell Hotel, wound itself around the Space Needle and throughout the family parks and museums to the dining district of 2nd avenue where I lost myself at Singles Going Steady record store, busied itself at Pike’s Market, enjoyed all 11 floors of the Central Library, and returned to its origin via a long walk down the waterfront. The vacation continued early the next morning with a drive south through Tacoma and the outskirts of Olympia (where I saw Sleater-Kinney Road!) and turned paths in Aberdeen until the beautiful 76 mile drive through the Olympic Peninsula to Ruby Beach and the Hoh National Rain Forest. There I stretched my legs at the rocky beach and wrote a couple of post cards while dipping my feet into the crisp water. Amid the two hundred feet hemlocks, spruces, and bigleaf maples covered in spikemoss, at the Hall of Mosses, I let the phantasmagorical copses play with my mind like I had entered the very pages of the Dungeon and Dragons quest I was writing. At the fallen spruce, I envisioned the hill giant picking up a large stone and throwing it at the gnomish cleric…and then we were back in the car to race around Crescent Lake and wait in line for a ferry ride from Bainbridge Island in the dark of night with the twinkling lights of the city blinking underneath the International Space Station while waves lapped the great steel boat.

We left Seattle after one last delicious breakfast at Citizen and drove to Mt. Rainier to battle gravel roads, heights, and a one-lane bridge over a river to find secluded Lake Mowhi. To beat the falling sun and the incoming traffic, we drove to Portland where my heart was hammering in my chest as I thought about all the people I know who live there. I wouldn’t have a chance to see them all, but I had to try to see as many as I could. And I could not be any luckier because BEETS, most excellent BEETS, went out of her way to accommodate my crazy demands to show my parents around and then be lead around Portland while driving my mother and father to the Japanese Gardens, the Rose Gardens, the Shakespeare Garden, the Oregon Zoo, Vita Cafe and its still lip-smacking tofu buffalo things, and more. And I ran around to Powells, Mississippi Records, Jackpot Records, Lovecrafts, Holocene, White Owl Social Club, and others laughing, gaming, and drinking myself into a state of sated euphoria. BEETS and I went to the Art Museum to witness the first Monster Drawing Rally where both of us scored weird and eldritch drawings. The sun beat down on us heavily but we endured late into the night. Like an aged photo album, yellowed pictures of familiar faces stood up, shook the dust from their hair and brows, regained their color and focus, and smile upon me over drinks as we traded stories since the last time I saw them. There was FALAFEL in her sharp suit jacket laughing at my recent outrageous interactions. ZITI and PENNE forgot ten years of silence for music, board games, and a photo booth. However, did I really erase the smudge of time lapse upon our friendship in that short four days? I truly hated to leave although the last day offered us a smokey view of Mt. Hood.

As I scored lots of good records before and during this trip, I felt like making a mix tape with all the new music I acquired. Then, as many of them were 7-inch singles and I visited two cities, the whole A-Side/B-Side connection flared inside my thoughts. So why not make two mix tapes: one for Seattle and one for Portland. There will be no true “flow” to either mix tape as many varied genres of music are being tapped: Brazilian tropicalia, Germany krautrock, British punk, American hardcore, Malian Sahel and Ngoni sounds, and Black American rhythm and blues.


A Side: Seattle: Morning Mist, Citizen, Climb the Mountain to the Hidden Lake

  1. Ammassakoul ‘N’ Ténéré – Tinariwen
  2. Non Alignment Pact – Pere Ubu
  3. Strawberry Julius – Bikini Kill
  4. Tomorrow’s Girls – U.K. Subs
  5. Will You Love Me Tomorrow? – the Shirelles
  6. Shoplifters of the World Unite – the Smiths
  7. My Perfect Cousin – the Undertones
  8. White Lightning – the Fall
  9. Curso Intensivo de Boas Maneiras – Tom Ze
  10. Papa Was a Rolling Stone – the Temptations
  11. Problem Child – the Damned
  12. Reclamation – Fugazi
  13. Identity – Xray Spex
  14. Down at the Tube Station at Midnight – the Jam
  15. Shake Rattle and Roll – Big Joe Turner
  16. Luzifer Ghlom – Amon Duul II
  17. Hour of Need – The Sound
  18. Harmony in My Head – the Buzzcocks
  19. Come Out into the Open – Penetration
  20. Musow For Our Woman – Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
  21. Jennifer – Faust
  22. Hey Joe – Patti Smith

B Side: Portland: A Late Night Out Among the Brightest Stars and Friends And Firs

  1. Plastic Man – The Temptations
  2. Half a Person – The Smiths
  3. It’s a Bit of Pain – Faust
  4. Land – Patti Smith
  5. Real World – Pere Ubu
  6. Let’s Submerge – Xray Spex
  7. Ladon – Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
  8. Jeopardy – The Sound
  9. Living Too Late – The Fall
  10. Quero Sambar Meu Bem – Tom Ze
  11. Binocular Images – Penetration
  12. Boys – the Shirelles
  13. Don’t Wanna See You Again – the Undertones
  14. Long Division – Fugazi
  15. Scum of the Earth – UK Subs
  16. Aldhechen Manin – Tinariwen
  17. Rah! Rah! Replica! – Bikini Kill
  18. You Take My Money – The Damned
  19. You Know I Love You – Big Joe Turner
  20. Something’s Gone Wrong Again – The Buzzcocks
  21. Phallus Dei – Amon Duul II
  22. The Night – The Jam

Entry 0023: Hail Eris, I Submitted a Short Story for Publication


LP: É Proibido Proibir: Tropicália by Various Artists

2005 Soul Jazz Records SJR LP 118

Favorite Track: Jimmy, Renda-se by Tom Ze


I am proud right now. In late January, my friend informed me about an anthology seeking swords vs. cthulhu stories. The deadline was March 1st. The start of February, my birthday week, and a Valentine’s Day spent playing Arkham Horror with my friends suddenly left me two weeks to write a fresh, original weird fiction meets Conan short story. And it was harder than I imagined, especially with the max 5,000 word limit. Writer’s block set in early and fierce like the winter storm that stole another writing day from me as I was only too excited to build snowmen. I struggled with finding atmospheric descriptions of a haunted forest, the massive length of a giant, and the sensation of a steel blade separating your tongue from the frenulum. How does a writer convey enough of a back story to a character in 400 words or less? Every sentence read like I was writing a Dick and Jane book.

Krom blessed me with some luck allowing me to schedule extra hours at work on days that I was already working. Another week passed and the two drafts I wrote were worthless. Someone asked me how I came up with the idea for my story. One of the requirements for the anthology was there had to be a fight scene. I figured that most people’s fight scenes were going to be full of disembowelment, be-headings, and necromancy. I paced my room listening to music. My brain racked itself of all the combat scenes I read in my fantastical youth. I had put the Tropicália LP on my player (more on this later) when a little scene popped into my thoughts and I gagged. I had envisioned a tiny female warrior jumping into a giant’s mouth, cutting its tongue free, and rolling it like a carpet down the giant’s throat where it would asphyxiate to death. The rest was just coming up with the reasons why these people would be fighting.

With two days left before deadline, I received a phone call from work asking me to come in for more extra hours. I had to tell them no. It was crunch time. I sealed myself away from society. I didn’t even know that Leonard Nimoy had passed away. But I re-wrote the story for a third time. I used a couple of sentences or phrases from the previous draft, but it was almost entirely new. Then during my lunch break at work, I fixed spelling and grammatical errors. Then I submitted it.

It was a rush.

And a rush job so I would be very surprised if it is accepted for publication, but fingers crossed anyways. The point was I succeeded. I didn’t back down even though numerous times I told myself I would. I will probably not re-read the story for a couple of months. When I am in the perfect mood, I will pull it out and re-write a fourth time and fix the lack of dynamic language. All of this has really made me want to play Arkham Horror again.

I learned a few things about my writing. I need to practice writing scene descriptions. Two or three times I described things being illuminated under the moonlight. Where were my other senses? What about the flora and fauna? I was a slow writer this month, averaging 1,000 words in 4 or 5 hours. I need to improve on that. It is very easy to think yourself into staring at a blank screen instead of just writing the bad sentences down and fixing them later. Another thing I learned was how to be adaptable. As typical with me, one scene was created inside my head with no thought about how the tale would start and end. As many writers would probably agree, the beginning was difficult: did I want to start with the warrior finding the giant’s lair? Or should it start at the very beginning with the giants slaughtering the barbarian wizard tribe? Or should a series of drunk townspeople be spreading rumors about the mad sorceress who can turn into a bat? I wrote all of those beginnings.

Now a little bit about Tropicália music. The collection for this blog entry is one of my favorite LPs. It comes highly recommended to me. I knew nothing about Brazilian music until around 2009. A co-worker told me that if I ever saw an Os Mutantes LP I should buy it immediately. Of course, Os Mutantes records would be re-issued that year and Shake-It Records had them for sale. I bought Mutantes along with some other records, but it was the first I put on the player. Another music-inclined friend was with me at the time. Dom Quixote was strange. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But then came the false start of the second track. The music was bouncy, carefree, perhaps even a bit reckless. My friend didn’t seem as impressed at first, but that second track would quickly win him over after it sat in his head for a while. I went ahead and bought the re-issue of the first album and that album quickly became a regular spin. I was impressed by the Baptista brothers and Rita Lee’s raw talent and ingenuity. They built their own instruments and invented a sort of mock-Sgt. Pepper’s meets Brazilian bossa nova with seven strong doses of weirdness blended in.

Months later, I discovered this compilation as a CD at the public library. I was blown away by Gal Costa, Tom Ze, Gilberto Gil, and others. I danced around my apartment, telling my friends about it, and using tracks from it on mixed CDs. It remains one of my favorite CDs to send out for the library’s CD of the Month club. I think more people should check it out. Sure you may not understand the lyrics unless you speak Portuguese, however, that is not necessary to enjoy it. If you like happy music to dance to, this is it.

There is not a bad track but here are my favorites:

A Minha Menina – Os Mutantes

Tuareg – Gal Costa

Procissao – Gilberto Gil

Jimmy, Renda-se – Tom Ze

Gloria – Tom Ze

Tropicália – Caetano Veloso