Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tom Snyder, Harlan Ellison - The Tomorrow Show



"Why don't you put in some Mayans?"

This collects a ton of my favorites in one clip. The great Tom Snyder, who passed away on Sunday, and the great Harlan Ellison on Snyder's The Tomorrow Show. Apparently first broadcast on February 4th, 1976, this is a Star Trek-themed show including James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, and Walter Koenig, although Harlan dominates this segment.

I liked Snyder's one-on-one interviews on The Tomorrow Show, which aired during a period of my life where I tended to go to bed late and rise even later, but I loved the round-tables even more. Having a intelligent, articulate group of people do nothing except talk in a round table format was already a quirky concept for television in the `70s, even during the graveyard shift. You can't imagine anyone buying the idea today... and the poorer we are for it. If you're not familiar with Snyder past Dan
Aykroyd 's spot-on imitation, take 9 minutes out of your day and watch this clip.

I always thought Snyder and The Tomorrow Show format would have been a natural for podcasting, especially now with video podcasting so easy to create and distribute. Unfortunately, leukemia curtailed his public career two years ago, or we might have seen yet another version of The Tomorrow Show.

You're missed, Tom.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Maria Muldaur - Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue

Using lawyerly-like phrases like persona non grata and non compos mentis, my brother-in-law, Ted, asked for a reprint of my now-collector's item interview of Maria Muldaur, which I conducted earlier this year and had originally published on the site that shall not be named, as I'm not giving them free publicity.

***

Maria Muldaur is in a RV on her way to her next gig somewhere in Iowa when her cell phone rings.

"So, where's the show?" I ask.

"Clear Lake," she answers, which gives me pause. I've never been to Clear Lake Iowa, but the name brings a flood of memories from books and movies anyway. A skinny young man in horn-rimmed glasses, an improbable rock star, blasting out a Bo Diddley beat; teenage girls in pleated skirts doing coordinated dance moves, a heavy-set guy thumping a tambourine, dancing onto the stage, surprisingly light on his feet; now a grinning Chicano kid coming out and adding his guitar to the mix. And the orchestra keeps the beat going, the horns lifting Not Fade Away higher and higher as the group laughs, unplug their guitars, and wave goodbye to the audience as they walk off-stage one-by-one.

"Thank y'all! See you next year," the last one, the tall, skinny guy, calls back to the crowd... and they're gone.

Clear Lake is one of those iconic rock places, like Max Yasgur's farm - or maybe the Altamont Speedway. It was the last stand of the Winter Dance Party of 19 and 59.

"Whoa," I say, back in the future but totally thrown out of interview gear. "Buddy Holly territory."

"Yeah," Maria answers. "We're even playing the same place, the Surf Ballroom. But at least we're not flying out."

"Stick to the RV," I say with feeling, and we move on to more pleasant subjects. I've called Maria to talk about her new CD, Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue, out in stores next Tuesday, May 15th, and the third of her classic blues albums.

"The first one I did was Richland Woman Blues in 2001," Maria says. "And then the follow-up to that was 2005's Sweet Lovin' Ol' Soul. Those two were both tributes to the early blues pioneers who so deeply inspired me at the start of my career. NB&B is the natural conclusion, paying tribute to the classic blues queens - the women who sang what I think of as 'classic' blues as opposed to 'country' blues or 'rural' blues."

The blues queens Maria salutes on Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue include Bessie Smith (“Empty Bed Blues,” “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”), Victoria Spivey (“TB Blues,” “One Hour Mama”), Alberta Hunter (“Early Every Morn”), Ma Rainey (“Yonder Come The Blues”) and Mamie Smith (“Down Home Blues”). And on the Sippie Wallace classic, “Up the Country Blues,” Muldaur does a dynamite duet with another powerhouse blues queen of more recent vintage - Bonnie Raitt.

"One of those singers I knew personally was Sippie Wallace, who wrote many great blues songs," Maria recalls. "If you're a Bonnie Raitt fan you probably already know of Sippie, because Bonnie spent a few years with her and does some of her songs like I'm A Mighty Tight Woman and Woman Be Wise, Don't Advertise Your Man. I had the pleasure of recording and performing with Sippie when the Kweskin Jug Band backed her on her so-called "comeback" album in 1967, Mighty Tight Woman.

"You also knew Victoria Spivey back in the Greenwich Village days," I say.

"She was the first artist I knew of savvy enough to have her own record label," Maria laughs. "She was in New York when I was growing up, and had this record label, and she took me under her wing and mentored me. She actually suggested to the first group I played in - The Even Dozen Jug Band - that they needed to have me in the band, too.

"She was going to sign them to her label but she said, 'You know, you boys sound good, but y'all need some sex appeal. Why don't you get that little gal I seen playing the fiddle over there by Gerde's Folk City.'

"So, they came to me and told me they were going to make a record for Victoria's label, and she told us we need some sex appeal, and she said we should ask you, so would you please join our band?

"Needless to say, this was long before the days of women's lib, so I didn't take personal affront at the idea of being asked to join a band merely for my looks as opposed to my talent. And it sounded like fun, so I did it, and then Victoria took me under her wing from there and started turning me on to the kind of blues she thought I'd sound good singing. So, it was important for me to include several of Victoria's songs on this tribute album."

"One of the things I really like about Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue is how alive the music feels," I say. "Not just the way you do it, but the words and the feeling behind them. You get this feeling of sexy, lusty women living the life."

I can almost feel Maria's smile beaming all the way from Iowa to New Hampshire.

"That's it! The music still resonates with people, and it's still relevant today. As I said before, at one time this was pop music played on the radio. But just because you can't find it on the airwaves now -"

"Except Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour," I interrupt.

Maria laughs. "Yeah, I guess. But even though you can't usually hear it on the radio now doesn't mean the blues isn't very alive and well. And these women were great role models. They were very independent. They liberated themselves way before the time of women's lib. They came from very challenging social and financial environments, and had to break racial barriers and sexual barriers. And, you know, they did it with no big fanfare, or 'rah-rah' cheering squad cheering them on. They just lived life as they pleased and sang about and they sang about sex with great humor and grace, and lustiness. They were just so soulful, and fun, you know?"

"It sounds like perfect Maria Muldaur material to me," I say, and it does. If you like the old-time blues, and spirit, and punch, and funk, and joy in your music you'll love Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue.

If you're in the Hibbing, Minnesota area, Maria Muldaur will be performing at Dylan Days on May 26th, where I bet you'll catch a great live performance from her 2006 Dylan cover album, Heart of Mine. Closer to New England, Maria will also be at the Regattabar Jazz Bar in Cambridge next Thursday, May 17th on the first leg of the Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue tour. Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue, the CD will be in stores May 15th.

***


Fred researches, writes, and produces The Dreamtime blog and podcast, occasional commentary on the artists played on Dylan's XM Radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour. For more on Maria, check out the Dreamtime blog and Episode 20 - Heart of Mine.

All Yours For Just $34 Million

From the ebay posting:

Offered is the timeless ownership of one of the finest islands in the world and one of the last freehold islands in the South Pacific paradise of Fiji.

THE ISLAND

The 225 acre island is 1 mile long by 1/3 mile wide with 150 foot elevations, surrounded by a 5,000 acre lagoon which completely encircles the island, offering protection from extreme tides and providing the island with calm tranquil waters ideally suited for water sports.

The crystal clear water has 200-foot visibility and is a comfortable 80 degrees Fahrenheit most of the year.

The island was a safe haven from storms for Polynesian sailors over the centuries; the entrance to the lagoon is 35 feet deep and about 200 feet wide, recently allowing yachts over 200 feet the serene protection of the lagoon. The island still provides a safe and luxurious haven from the storms of everyday life and is the only resort in the largely uninhabited and pristine archipelago, offering privileged visitors an image of Polynesian life as it was hundreds of years ago.

The island has spectacular sugar-white beaches on the east and western sides of the island, with the villa development on the western side to take advantage of the magnificent South Pacific sunsets. The island was an operating coconut plantation in the 19th century leaving the entire island is scattered with swaying coconut palms creating the ultimate tropical ambiance.

The island’s limestone has created numerous caves and tide pools, perfect for exploring.

The island is home to rare coconut crabs, giant clams, leather back turtles, doves, and many other extraordinary birds and marine mammals. A strict conservation program has been instituted to ensure the preservation of all marine and wild life. Guests will marvel at the pristine ecosystem while indulging in all the amenities of a luxurious five star resort and spa.

THE RESORT

The island is home to a world class resort development (80% complete), with an estimated completion of 6 to 9 months.

The main complex, comprising the lobby, lounge, dining pavilion, meeting facilities and full service spa, soars 100 feet above the turquoise lagoon, offering sublime vistas and spectacular sunsets. The lavish private villas are scattered along the crystal clear water’s edge on a magnificent white sand beach. Spa tubs built for two complete each of the 21 guest Bures (Villas), which will feature mosquito-netted four-poster beds and sumptuous furnishings.

Friday, July 27, 2007

American Life in Poetry: Column 119

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

I'm especially attracted to poems that describe places I might not otherwise visit, in the manner of good travel writing. I'm a dedicated stay-at-home and much prefer to read something fascinating about a place than visit it myself. Here the Hawaii poet, Joseph Stanton, describes a tree that few of us have seen but all of us have eaten from.


Banana Trees

They are tall herbs, really, not trees,
though they can shoot up thirty feet
if all goes well for them. Cut in cross

section they look like gigantic onions,
multi-layered mysteries with ghostly hearts.
Their leaves are made to be broken by the wind,

if wind there be, but the crosswise tears
they are built to expect do them no harm.
Around the steady staff of the leafstalk

the broken fronds flap in the breeze
like brief forgotten flags, but these
tattered, green, photosynthetic machines

know how to grasp with their broken fingers
the gold coins of light that give open air
its shine. In hot, dry weather the fingers

fold down to touch on each side--
a kind of prayer to clasp what damp they can
against the too much light.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2006 by Joseph Stanton. Reprinted from "A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O'ahu," Time Being Books, 2006, with permission of the publisher. Introduction copyright (c) 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

American Life in Poetry: Column 120

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

The loss of youth and innocence is one of the great themes of literature. Here the California poet Kim Noriega looks deeply into a photograph from forty years ago.


Heaven, 1963

It's my favorite photo--
captioned, "Daddy and His Sweetheart."
It's in black and white,
it's before Pabst Blue Ribbon,
before his tongue became a knife
that made my mother bleed,
and before he blackened my eye
the time he thought I meant to end my life.

He's standing in our yard on Porter Road
beneath the old chestnut tree.
He's wearing sunglasses,
a light cotton shirt,
and a dreamy expression.

He's twenty-seven.
I'm two.
My hair, still baby curls,
is being tossed by a gentle breeze.
I'm fast asleep in his arms.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From "Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets" (Huntington Beach, CA, Tebot Bach, 2006), 117. Copyright (c) 2006 by Kim Noriega. Reprinted with permission of the author and Tebot Bach. Introduction copyright (c) 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

American Life in Poetry: Column 122

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

The chances are very good that you are within a thousand yards of a man with a comb-over, and he may even be somewhere in your house. Here's Maine poet, Wesley McNair, with his commentary on these valorous attempts to disguise hair loss.



Hymn to the Comb-Over

How the thickest of them erupt just
above the ear, cresting in waves so stiff
no wind can move them. Let us praise them
in all of their varieties, some skinny
as the bands of headphones, some rising
from a part that extends halfway around
the head, others four or five strings
stretched so taut the scalp resembles
a musical instrument. Let us praise the sprays
that hold them, and the combs that coax
such abundance to the front of the head
in the mirror, the combers entirely forget
the back. And let us celebrate the combers,
who address the old sorrow of time's passing
day after day, bringing out of the barrenness
of mid-life this ridiculous and wonderful
harvest, no wishful flag of hope, but, thick,
or thin, the flag itself, unfurled for us all
in subways, offices, and malls across America.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2006 by Wesley McNair. Reprinted from "The Ghosts of You and Me," published by David R. Godine, 2006, by permission of the author. Introduction copyright (c) 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

"...it attacks and tries to eat nearly anything it sees..."

No, it isn't Bear, but scary squids invading Monterey Bay.

via The San Jose Mercury News

A mysterious sea creature, up to 7 feet long, weighing up to 100 pounds. It hunts in packs of hundreds, flying through the water at 25 mph, changing color.

With a parrot-like beak and arms covered with thousands of sharp barbs, it attacks and tries to eat nearly anything it sees, including fish, scuba divers, even its own kind.

But it's not a creature of Hollywood. It's real. And it's reached the Monterey Bay. The Humboldt squid, also known as the giant squid or jumbo squid, traditionally has lived in warm waters off South America and Mexico, where fishermen call it "diablo rojo," or "red devil."

For reasons that still aren't entirely clear, large numbers of the scrappy cephalopods have been steadily expanding their range north, first off San Diego and Los Angeles, where hundreds have washed up on beaches in recent years.

Now they appear to have taken up residence in Monterey Bay, according to a study released Monday by researchers from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) compiled with more than 16 years of underwater video.

"These are aggressive, pugnacious bullies," said Bruce Robison, senior scientist at MBARI, based in Moss Landing. "They are a sight to behold."

The invasion has sparked the interest of recreational fishermen, who fight to land them like marlins.

Full story

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Momma!


From Kittenish, Bear, Ghost Kitties, The 333, Willies, Hawkas, and Voles!

Why I Love Arizona - Part the nth


Although it's no longer the Arizona I knew and loved in the `60s, one of the things that delights me about the state is that it's a strange attractor for weird and wonderful experimental communities including Biosphere 2 (which I still want to visit); Arcosanti and Taliesin West - both of which Peggy and I visited in our last trip to Arizona.

Now there's Arizona Sky Village!

Nestled in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains, at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon in beautiful Portal, Arizona… you will find one of the most unique communities in the country. Dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of its natural surroundings, Arizona Sky Village offers residents an opportunity to discover the wonders of nature while enjoying all of the comforts of home. Escape to a place with no city lights, no traffic, and no noise. Come and experience the tranquilliCopy of Zodiacal Light & milkywayty of the desert, the breathtaking vistas of the canyon, and the timeless beauty of the Old West.

Located in one of the darkest deep-sky sites in North America, Astronomers will watch in awe as the Milky Way rises like a gathering storm and will re-discover the Universe in pristine dark skies.

Perched at the mouth of the world famous Cave Creek Canyon, one of the top birding sites in North America, Birders will marvel at the variety and abundance of species found here.

Adjacent to the Coronado National Forest, Hikers, Bikers, Nature, and History Enthusiasts will discover one of the country’s true National Treasures. Explore the forest where magnificent, colorful canyon walls give way to rocky terrain wooded with sycamore, cypress, pine, and walnut trees. Listen… as the only sounds you will hear are that of birds chirping as Cave Creek gently trickles over river rocks untouched since Cochise himself walked the forest floor.
At $6,500-$8,500 a week for "interval ownership," which I think is a euphemism for "time-share," a little out of our price range... but I can dream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Dylan at Newport" DVD coming?

via ISIS - Dylan Digest

The expanded edition of Festival, anticipated at the time that DVD came out, never appeared but sources now report that Dylan's appearances at the 1963, 1964 and 1965 Newport Folk Festivals have been compiled into an 80-minute DVD, to be released by Sony/BMG Legacy strand by the year end. It will also be shown on PBS-TV as part of its pledge programming in December - and it has been offered to other broadcasters, too. It will reportedly contain all the footage that Murray Lerner shot of Dylan at these festivals.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And over at Dreamtime



It's all over at gather except for collecting my pay at month's end. And things are getting back on track with Dreamtime and the new site A Series of Tubes.

Episode 37 - Chasing the Rising Sun - an exploration of the roots of The House of the Rising Sun, is up at Dreamtime. I'm hoping to stick to a twice-a-month schedule with the podcast.

There is No Need to Adjust Your Monitor

I'm frigging around, yes again, with moving fhb into the modern world and the "new" Blogger. This time things seem to be going slightly easier. But expect this page to rearrange itself over the next several days until I get it whipped into shape.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Experimenting with Prerollr

I'm doing an ad experiment with the new Series of Tubes site. I'm trying out prerollr, a tool that layers a static ad over the video. Viewers have to close the ad to view the video.

Given that I just signed up for the Beta this morning, my initial impressions of prerollr aren't that good. Typos on their site. A very vague explanation about payment. The ads range from okay from my perspective (Amazon) to slightly infomercial from my perspective (a weight-loss ad).

But I'll run it for a week or so, and see whether it's worth it to continue. Interesting attack to generate revenue from embedded vids, if nothing else.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We're really not on Summer hiatus

It just looks that way.

The gather gig is almost over, which I'm just as happy about. On the plus side, it was nice to see I could still write to a deadline, if needed. I turned out a couple of good pieces, and a few "paying the bills" pieces too, given that gather never paid more than ceegar and poker money.

On the negative side... well. Too many negatives to list. In any case, as contract renewal came closer, I dithered back-and-forth, to-and-fro about whether to call it quits after six months. The extra cash was nice, giving me the chance to splurge on book/CD/ceegar/poker indulgences without guilt (Peggy laughs in my head at this point, asking when I don't splurge on indulgences), but I came to really dislike the site and the way it was run. gather is nakedly a site where the content seems only to be there to support the advertising, rather than advertising being used to subsidize the content. And while I'm used to corporate spin, inflation, prevarication, and dissembling, gather took it to such heights that by the end I was reminded of the old joke about how to tell if a politician is lying.

It also concerned me that my wife - who as a rule expresses no opinion about anything that I'm up to - had formed an extreme dislike for gather and stated several times that I should bail the moment my contract expired. I was also feeling guilt about devaluing my writing. gather was getting some pretty good content very cheaply, and that wasn't sitting well with me.

In the end I compromised, and sent off an email to the gather manager nominally in charge of the correspondents' program requesting a pay rate more in line with industry standards for any future work. It was so unlikely that gather would accept the terms that I felt I had in effect resigned. And, on the off chance that they bit, well, I'd cross that bridge when needed. I was asking for enough money to afford noseplugs and perfume.

But the answer was - unsurprisingly - "No," with no option for negotiation, and that was that. By that time I felt relieved that the door was closed, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to treat gather seriously, and had started to point out publicly the emperor's lack of clothes. Disdain is not a good attitude to have about an entity commissioning you to write for it. I'm not even sure the extra money would have made me put a lid on it.

My last column goes up on the 19th. Most of my gather content - if you're checking - is already gone, so I can get the Google searchbots to redirect results away from gather. The last of my stuff should be gone by the beginning of August, and that will be that.

If you joined gather because of me, my apologies.

On a more positive note, like energy - or bullshit, for that matter - nothing Fred writes is ever destroyed, it just changes form. Dreamtime has a new sister site - A Series of Tubes - using much of the video content I originally posted on gather. And I have some ideas for some other things in the works, too.

Those "other things" may put a further damper on fhb. I don't know yet. Like energy - or bullshit - it may be time to change into something new, and maybe, after three years of straight-ahead blogging, it's time to try something else.

Stay tuned. It promises to be an interesting ride.