Tag Archives: low times

What’s Been Doin’

Hey! I haven’t written here in a while. Nor have I been writing all that much at Scratchbomb in calendar year 2012. One large reason is that, for the last bit and a half, I’ve been concentrating alternately on finishing my novel and working on a large-ish non-fiction thing.

As far as the novel goes, it is 98 percent done. I’ve completed a second draft, and will soon begin a third so I can dot the i’s, cross the t’s, remove superfluous adverbs, and so on. However, all the really hard work (the actual writing of stuff) is done, and very soon I will send it out to the world and onto a slush pile near you. I am close enough to completion that I feel confident enough to tell the world the following facts about this novel:

  1. The title is Love and a Short Leash.
  2. It is a spy novel that involves baseball.

Speaking of baseball, the large-ish non-fiction thing I mentioned above involves The Great American Pastime and it too has been consuming me of late. I’ve been kinda squirrely about exactly what this thing is on Twitter and elsewhere. I realize that vagueness such as this is maddening and I apologize for that. Here is what I can say about it:

  1. It is called Yells For Ourselves.
  2. It is a multi-volume ebook about the 1999/2000 Mets, or rather, about the narratives and media perceptions thereof.
  3. It will be available in a no-frills version and a souped-up version for the iPad that will include lots of extra goodies, the technical aspects of which I’ve (mostly) figured out.
  4. More details will become available upon the official launch of YellsForOurselves.com. (Nothing there right now, really, except a “watch this space” notice and one of my favorite Mets-related pics ever.)

I am pursuing traditional channels to get my novel published. (Speaking of which, if you’re involved with traditional channels, hey, hit me up, wouldja?) The non-fiction book will be self-published, more or less to prove that the souped-up version is something can be done, from a technical standpoint.

The other big reason I’ve been delinquent in my posts here is because I’ve been writing for other sites. (Scratchbomb and I have an open relationship.) I realize this has endangered my goal for Scratchbomb to be the M*A*S*H of the Internet (“where hilarity meets brooding introspection!”). However, I’m pretty proud of the stuff I’ve done elsewhere of late. Apart from my regular stuff at Amazin’ Avenue (which should ramp up now that spring training is upon us). here’s where you could have seen me so far in 2012.

  • Last Friday I eulogized Gary Carter at The Classical. The Kid was the first athlete I loved, and his death, while sadly unexpected, hit me hard. I hope did his memory justice here. On a less serious tip, I also took a look at how Ray Manzarek’s brought an otherwise fine HBO doc about John Wooden and the UCLA basketball dynasty to a screeching halt.
  • For Vice, I penned a brief assessment of the Marlins’ home run monstrosity as a sign of the impending apocalypse. If you think that take is a bit hyperbolic, I assume you have not seen this thing.
  • For Splitsider, I looked back at the Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary Special, possibly the greatest thing Bill Murray has ever done, if not humanity itself.
  • Last but certainly not least, I’ve scribbled a few things for Low Times: a review of Mitch Miller’s prog record, and an in-depth study of which exact city was built on rock and roll. And if you’re not listening to the Low Times podcast, get on the stick, fella. I have to say the Worst Lyrics discussion with Ted Leo and DC Pierson is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in many a moon.

Will I be posting here with more regularity in the near future? Possibly. What I can promise is that if I don’t, I will definitely put up another post apologizing for not posting.

Me, Elswhere: The Baseball Hall of Shame and Cherry Cherry Christmas

I’m blowin’ up on the interwebs today, and I want to shout it from the rooftops! Or here. Yes, here will do.

First, you should know that I’ve written my first feature for The Classical, the new webbed site that aims to be heavy on the latter half of “sportswriting.” It’s about The Baseball Hall of Shame, a series of books that were incredibly influential on my young mind, and, my thesis goes, the young minds of many a lad who grew up to write about sports on the internet. I’m very proud of this piece and it was super fun to write, so tweet, like it on Facebook, put it on your MySpace doodads, and whatever else you need to do, but get the word out there, capisce? And while there, you can also check out a quick blog post I did on the subject of the dad who forced his kid to cry on camera about Albert Pujols. Fun!

But wait! If you act now, you can also read me at Low Times, where I survey my “favorite” holiday song of all time, Neil Diamond’s cray-tacular “Cherry Cherry Christmas.” If you’ve never heard it before, you’re in for a treat. If you have heard it before, my condolences!

Me Elsewhere: Rap Ads at Low Times

Let this be a heads-up to all and sundry that all this week, you can read contributions from yours truly over at Low Times. You see, once upon a time, companies thought they could capitalize on the emerging hip-hop culture in order to move some product. They also thought anybody could rap, and the results that littered the airwaves in the late 80s/early 90s were not pretty. So that we can all take a trip down memory lane, or expose unwitting younger generations to their horror, Daniel Ralston and I have compiled a few examples for your listening and viewing pleasure (?).

The first installment is up as we speak, with more segments to follow all week at Low Times’ “Long Player” section. The inaugural post includes a commercial I think you’ll “love in a major way.” Enjoy!

Low Times Kicks Into High Gear

There was a time when music was the be all and end all of my existence. Listening to it, playing it (see to your left), writing it, going to watch others play it. All of this consumed an enormous amount of my free time and mental energy.

Then I developed a condition called Being Old, and it faded from the front of my passions. In a way, I blame how easy music has become for The Fan. In the pre-internet age (get off my lawn), the pursuit of new music–finding out about bands, shows, scenes, etc.–required so much more perseverance and shoe leather. Albums were artifacts, not to be chopped up into playlists, but to be listened to as a whole, as documents. I’m one of those weird people who enjoys working to discover things. Coincidentally or not, my aggressive hunting of music began to wane when the web and iTunes removed an element of labor from the hunt.

I soon found myself listening to actual music less and less, and not pursuing New Stuff with my former intensity. When I listened to my iPod on my way to work, I tended to listen to podcasts, mostly of the comedy variety, with old Jean Shepherd shows thrown in. I’m not exactly sure why, but at this time, I just preferred words.

Over the last few years, I’ve been making a conscious effort to throw myself back into music. Listening to it at home, especially when I write. Keeping on top of New Stuff in my five minutes of free time. Making it out to shows when I can. (This last one is the roughest on my schedule and back; I can not stand up for hours like I used to.) It feels great to listen to an old song, or a new one, and remember how wonderful music can be.

That’s why I’m really excited about Low Times, the new podcast spearheaded by Tom Scharpling, Daniel Ralston, and Maggie Serota. If you read this site more than once, you surely know of my love for Tom’s radio program, The Best Show on WFMU. Since it started back in 2000, The Best Show has been beloved not just by comedy nerds, but also by music nerds, because it frequently delves into deep, dense detail of band lore and trivia. Tom is seemingly able to pull out album titles and band lineups for virtually any group off the top of his head. (For instance, recent shows feature a puppet named Vance who has an encyclopedic love of prog rock. Vance has some very strong opinions on Gentle Giant and Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd.)

You can’t know stuff like this and not have a deep love of music, and that love is now channeled into Low Times, which Tom describes both in the podcast and at the show’s website as a successor to a fanzine he did in pre-Best Show days, 18 Wheeler. The inaugural edition definitely has a fanzine feel to it, in the best sense: no frills and no snark, just people talking about music and the trials and tribulations of making it.

The first episode of Low Times features a great interview by Tom with Janet Weiss of Wild Flag/Sleater-Kinney fame, wherein she talks about her almost accidental path to rock stardom. You’ll also hear Daniel talk to Owen Ashworth, ex of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, about how he nearly got beat up all across Europe. (I recall seeing him play at a tiny bar in Greenpoint where the reception was not much better.) And Maggie talks to Catherine Popper about what it’s like hearing the Caddyshack theme played to you by Chevy Chase.

Hearing a trio of very different musicians talk about their craft is a fantastic refresher on why music is so amazing. Even if finding music these days is easier than ever, the act of making music and getting people to hear it remains an exhausting, sometimes gut wrenching process. I have friends who are musicians and producers and engineers (or some combo of the three), and I remain in awe of them, that in this day and age, all economic reality to the contrary, people are still writing and producing and going out on tour. Nowadays, most people willing to go through with all of this aren’t doing so for fame or money or chicks, but for art and love.

Low Times is a healthy reminder of this fact. Based on the list of upcoming guests, I’m looking forward to being reminded again and again in the weeks to come.