A subszine, at least for this issue, of the greatest szine in the hobby, North Sealth, West George. In the future, I will be incorporating the game results from `Arsenic and Old Farts' into this szine somehow. For this issue, I have decided to include some excerpts from the first two `new' issues of North Sealth, West George. I welcome Terry's timely return. The letter column parts of the szine will not appear here again (and there are more of them for these issues that I did not include) so if you want to see it all, you must contact Terry directly.
This gives Terry the credit for what might be the longest issue in US postal diplomacy history. Voice of Doom #100 always used to be the standard and this issue blows that out of the water. I haven't numbered the pages, as usual, but we're somewhere around 110.... I know Terry will appreciate the irony and deliciousness of this.
``Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of Rasselas prince of Abyssinia.'' Samuel Johnson in the opening phrases of The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. This, of course, I have periodically used as the header quote for the szine, being the idea off which the szine was named. For this special 200th issue, let me quote from the end of the same book (recall that Imlac and the Astronomer were game names here for obvious reasons)...
``The prince desired a little kingdom, in which he might administer justice in his own person, and see all the parts of government with his own eyes; but he could never fix the limits of his dominion, and was always adding to the number of his subjects.
``Imlac and the Astronomer were contented to be driven along the stream of life without directing their course to any particular port.
``Of these wishes that they had formed they well knew that none could be obtained. They deliberated a while what was to be done, and resolved, when the inundation should cease, to return to Abyssinia.''
Happy 200th issue, everyone. I hope you all enjoyed the delay! I have held a whole bunch of material that I originally was going to put into this issue. Those items will appear spaced out over the next few issues as time permits. More than that, I had lots of little technical problems that resulted in me writing material that was lost. I can't even promise that there aren't some holes and incomplete sentences which I did complete, but didn't save. Apologies for all that and I hope you get something out of it. Starting next issue, we return to the standard model for this szine which mandates that I put some priority on getting the games out and I never hold the szine for letter column material. I most assuredly did not hold to that standard for this issue. It is 3-4 times the length of your average issue and it feels like three or four issues in production. I hope you all enjoy it and don't take the lateness as a signal not to continue to contribute. I really enjoyed ALL of your letters and notes, even the ones that I didn't print. Basically, I ended up skipping an announced deadline, just as I did for issue 100. Other than that, I've never been more than two weeks late for that entire 200 issue run, I even amaze myself.
The postal sub price is a flat $1.00 per issue in the US and Canada. You can double that for other foreign subbers (or $2.00 per issue sent airmail). Players in current games and standbys will continue to get the issues for free, and new game starts (except for Nuclear Yuppie Evil Empire Diplomacy, which is free) cost $15.00 ($10.00 for a life of the game subscription and $5 for the NMR Insurance). Remember that music comments and reviews are scattered through the game press at times.
By electronic mail, through the Internet, subs are free and can be obtained automatically by sending the message: subscribe tap
to majordomo of diplom.org and messages can be sent to the entire electronic mailing list by mailing them to tap of diplom.org which will forward your message to all of the people currently on the list. The message:
sent to majordomo of diplom.org gets you off the list. Please make careful note of that as well since you generally can get yourself off the list a lot easier than I can, and NOBODY likes to see unsubscribe messages sent to the entire list. A big, big thank you for David Kovar for setting this all up!! The Cal Tech ftp site is being mirrored on the diplom.org machine as well. Issues of The Abyssinian Prince #131 to #186 are available via anonymous FTP from ftp.ugcs.caltech.edu in the pub/diplomacy/Zines/TAP directory in compressed postscript format. I will be putting all of these issues up in html format. We'll get all that straightened out soon. The gracious assistance of Kevin Roust is most appreciated in keeping up this site. The files begin ap131.ps.Z and go sequentially from there. The Caltech site is at:
or check out the connections in the Diplomatic Pouch at its brand new address with all of the information you would need to play Diplomacy on the Internet at: http://diplom.org/DipPouch
Through Jamie McQuinn's Postal portion of the Pouch:
the szine will now reside in html format. Only the last few issues are there now, but I will be updating the back issues gradually in the near future.
Dan Stafford may well be really easily found, since he was running a United league for many of you for years after I lost touch with him. For my 200th issue, which redebuts North Sealth, West George Dan is THE most obvious choice. Back when I started this as a subszine to NSWG there were two other people also running games for Terry. One was Ken Corbin, who still is in close touch with the Pacific Northwest crowd, and still runs house cons, although I don't think he sees this szine. The other was Dan. When I broke out of the hobby backwaters, Dan was my favorite and most common Dip opponent. Terry and I also faced off against Dan in Terry's first game, and some would say still Terry's best game, when he cemented his reputation as the Toadfather, beating out Stafford in particular for the honor. I'll try to dig up some Stafford writing as this contest continues. Right now, though, go out and seek! I also still really want someone to track down Kevin Tighe, for whom we started this contest in the first place. You will win big brownie points with the GM and publisher by picking up that search again too. For this special issue, I have resurrected some writings from some of the people we're searching for that appear in the ``retrospective'' column below.
This is now going to be a regular continuing feature of the szine and I will be introducing a new ``search for'' every five issues. Moreover, you can win a $25 prize for finding some previous target who went unfound in the original $50 period. That means that if Kevin Tighe or Garret Schenck or Jerry Lucas is ``found'' from now on it is worth $25. Plus, Steve Emmert will throw in another ten spot for Garret Schenck if you can get Garret to write to him.
Winners will receive credit for Dip hobby activities that I will pay out as requested by the winner. Bid on PDORA items, subscribe to szines here or abroad, run your own contests, publish a szine, or whatever. Spend it all right away or use me as a bank to cover hobby activities for years. What must you do to win? Get me a letter to the editor for TAP from the person we're searching for. This is very important, just finding them doesn't do it. They have to write me a letter. The final judge as to the winner of any contest will be the target himself and I reserve the right to investigate the winning entry. When you find someone I'm looking for, you should ask him to send me a letter for print that includes a verification of who ``found'' him.
The British representative is the editor of Mission From God, John Harrington. John may be contacted at 30 Poynter Road, Bush Hill Park, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 1DL, UK (johnh of fiendishgames.demon.co.uk). The representives in Australia (John Cain, PO Box 4317, Melbourne University 3052, AUSTRALIA) or Belgium and some other European countries (Jef Bryant, Rue Jean Pauly, 121, B-4430 ANS, BELGIUM) also will forward your subscription on to the editor in either Australian dollars or continental European currencies respectively. Please include the full name and address of the foreign publisher with your order, if possible, as well as the szine title. Make your check in US dollars out to me personally. I will conduct business for Canadians as well, if I can, but prefer to deal in US dollars with them if possible, or Canadian dollars cash. To subscribe to American szines, the system works in reverse.
Obviously, I'm not anywhere close to getting back around to doing international szine reviews, but who knows, I might pick it up again at any time. I still actively am searching for more international traders.
Obscure and not-so-obscure ramblings on the state of the hobby and its publications, custodians, events, and individuals with no guarantee of relevance from the fertile keyboard of Jim-Bob, the E-Mail Dip world, and the rest of the postal hobby. My comments are in italics and ((double quotation marks)) like this. Bold face is used to set off each individual speaker. I should also make a note that I do edit for syntax and spelling on occasion.
Starting this issue, I'm trying to take Jack McHugh's constructive criticism seriously by opening up some white space with shorter paragraphs. See how y'all like the new format.
For this issue alone, here is where I am putting the friendly ``wow, two-hundred issues'' comments. I really appreciate all of the good feelings I got from everyone. Although (as I address in places below) I continue to think periodically about folding this szine, the only real problem is an embarrassment of riches. I'm so enjoying everything I'm doing, and I'm doing so much, that it just is hard to keep up. As a result, the szine probably hasn't been as much fun to read lately as it used to be. This issue picks that up again a bit, and continuing to publish the Arsenic and Old Farts results will be amusing to me, at least, in the near future. Before we get into them, however, we have a very important announcement from Lee Kendter, Jr.!
Lee Kendter, Jr. (Sun, 15 Feb 1998 12:50:11 -0500) Hi Everyone, I am looking for an immediate replacement as MNC. There are a lot of reason, but 2 key ones. 1) The postal numbers have become apathetic (less than 26 for 97). That has caused me to become apathetic on the position. 2) The growth of numbers is in the E-mail realm. I have no interest in learning where, and how, to issue numbers for the E-mail hobby. My replacement must be into the E-mail side of the hobby, and be willing to issue E-mail numbers. If anyone is interested, please contact me. I want the next issue of Alpha and Omega to be able to announce my replacement. Please publish this and distribute via E-mail this notice.
((Thanks, Lee, for your many years of hard work as the Miller Number Custodian. I hope we can find another one very soon!))
Dan Mathias (Mon, 23 Feb 1998 22:42:14, -0500)
Contact: David Hood, 2905 20th Street NE, Hickory, NC 28601, David_Hood of w3link.com
Dan Mathias, 509 Bayview Drive, Lusby, Md 20657, UUME07A of prodigy.com
This three-day event draws the best players from North America and beyond for a best 2 out of 4 multi-round Diplomacy tournament, and other competitions. On Friday night, May 22, players congregate for the first Diplomacy round and other events. During the Saturday night round, Con participants can enter the Variant Diplomacy tournament instead, for a touch of variety. Tournaments in other games such as Titan, Miniatures, History of the World, Advanced Civilization, 1830 and RoboRally will proceed throughout the weekend also. The host convention, Dixiecon, was the site of the 1990 World Diplomacy Championships and 1994 DipCon.
Features Include: Four Round Diplomacy Tournament; Plaques and Other Prizes; Wargames, Rail Games, RoboRally and Miniatures; Inexpensive Campus Housing; Experienced Convention Staff
The Carolina Amateur Diplomats will again host World Dipcon in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in conjunction with the regional gaming convention DixieCon. World DipCon is the World Diplomacy Championships, a tournament which rotates around the world. DixieCon was the World DipCon site in 1990, when the event drew the largest field of Diplomacy players in North America since 1983. It also hosted the North American Championships in 1994. This year's event promises to be another outstanding Diplomacy tournament as participants from around the world travel to Dixie for the chance to become the 1998 World Diplomacy Champion.
Of course, World DipCon isn't just about playing Dip with the best players in the world. It's also about meeting hobbyists for the first time, seeing old friends, and partaking of the many side-events such as Titan, 1830, History of the World, Miniatures, RoboRally, Acquire, Advanced Civilization, and Diplomacy variants, both in tournament and open-gaming formats.
If you are a publisher or webmaster, please circulate the info. If you are a prospective attendee, contact David Hood to register and/or reserve a room. If you have opinions or input regarding any aspect of the event, please submit such items to David for inclusion in the next info installment.
Below is a list of DixieCon/World DipCon/DipCon staff members, and the functions they are likely to perform. Registrants will receive future DipCon Newsletters as they are published, with information such as tournament schedules, expected participants, scoring systems, travel aids, and other news on the upcoming event. Contact David Hood now to put your name on that mailing list.
New Website: http://people.delphi.com/jmcquinn.wdc8.htm ((The full schedule of events can be found there.))
Notes: -Dip games have no set ending time except for Round Four, which ends at a time between 4:00 and 6:00 on Sunday known to the GM but not the players.
-You must play at least two Dip rounds to be eligible for tournament awards. Best Country is based on a single performance. The scoring system is outlined below.
-Titan, Acquire and 1830 events consist of unlimited qualifying rounds for final board on Sunday. Other event formats are TBA.
-Travel: Fly into Raleigh-Durham International, or take AMTRAK. We will provide free shuttles from the airport and train station. Directions for driving to Carmichael Hall, the site of the Con, will be sent to registrants.
-Fees: $15 to register for the Convention, $15 per night to stay in the dorm, to share a room ($30 if you want a room to yourself). Overseas folks will play and stay for free.
-Participants: Over the years DixieCon has had participants from 26 states and provinces, and 5 other countries. The 1990 WDC included players from France, Britain, Austria and Australia.
The Diplomacy event is a best 2-out-of-4 affair, with 1 round on Friday night, 2 on Saturday, and 1 on Sunday. There is also a team event, as described below. There are no time limits on the games except for the Sunday round, which ends sometime between 4 and 6 PM. Draws need not include all survivors, but must be approved unamimously by secret vote. Players will have to sign up for a morning round the night before, for the Saturday night round on Saturday morning, and in advance for Friday night. There are also tournaments in Titan, History of the World, Advanced Civilization, 1830, RoboRally, Acquire, Magic, etc. throughout the weekend. Prizes will consist of merchandise certificates, games, plaques, trophies, and ribbons.
Why do players have to preregister for each Dip round?: The main reason is that Dixiecon is somewhat unique in its procedure for setting up boards in each round. Round one, players will have the pleasure of playing a country they have not played before at DixieCon, or at least not lately. They will also typically not play with family members, roommates, best friends, carpoolmates, etc. Players who know each other will be placed on different boards, or at least on different ends of the same board. Every attempt is made to make sure you do not meet the same players in a round that you did in a previous round. By the fourth round you may have to, albeit on the other end of the board. You will definitely not play the same country twice. As you can imagine, this process becomes more difficult as the tournament progresses, a couple of hours may be required. Why do we go to all that effort? Tournament Diplomacy can be ruined by having brothers or roommates on the same board, by having to play Austria to an Italian player you just stabbed in the previous game, by being stuck playing Germany 2 or 3 times, etc. Once you play under this system, we think you will prefer it to a more random method. In addition, you get to meet the maximum number of people this way, which is one goal of this whole Hobby.
Scoring system: There is hardly any topic which can generate more disagreement among Diplomacy players than the issue of a tournament scoring system. Often, the partisans for or against a certain system cannot even conceive of the reasoning behind a system or tournament structure that is alien to them. Most U. S. Players, for example, react in horror when told of European systems which stop after a certain game-year rather than concluding the game along the line of a win or stalemate. Many Europeans wonder how a tournament can be efficiently run that does not have time limits on the rounds. Some players want to award nothing much in the way of points to those who do not win the game, while others think it is bizarre to differentiate so little between a 1 center member of a 5-WAY draw and a 16 center second place finisher on a board with a win. Still others will argue until blue in the face about which of those should get more points.
Suffice it to say that whatever scoring system is used at a WDC, it is not going to be universally popular. Even among the North American hobby it is impossible to assert a system that will fully satisfy most DipCon attendees.
DixieCon has used many different scoring systems over the years, all in keeping with its overall philosophy that wins should be favored, but so should bettering one's position (both by center count and relative size to others on the board). This year's system is close to those used at past DixieCons, amnd will be reasonably familiar to those who have played much tournament Diplomacy in North America in the past decade. If you find it strange, just remember that others probably find yours strange too. There is simply no concensus on this issue. The trick is to try to enjoy the game in whatever context it is played. While in Rome you should do as the Romans do so that when the Romans come to your city you can expect them to do the same as you, without criticism and opposition.
WIN (1st) 270; 2nd 70; 3rd 50; 4th 34; 5th 20.
2-Way Draw 170 each; 3-Way Draw 130 each; 4-Way Draw 106 each; 5-Way Draw 88.8 each; 6-Way Draw 74; 7-Way Draw 63.4
Plus you get 4 points per center. If you care how much 6th or 7th place gives you, don't.
Please Email Michael Lowrey if you have any suggestions or comments about the scoring system: mlowrey of charlotte.infi.net
Team tournament will be with Round Two. Teams will be 3 players each, with the team score being the average of all 3 players' scores. Teams can be formed from zines, clubs, friends, nations, states, mutual admiration, or any other reason you can think of. Competition will be fierce, so start putting your team together now!
Who all is coming?: If past events are a guide, there will be more than 100 Dippers from at least 4 different countries and 20 U.S. states. There are some nuts who have already preregistered, and some more rational people who have simply said they were coming: Ted Miller, Micheal McCabe, Melinda Holley , Manus Hand, Bruce Reiff, Don Williams, Cal White, Pitt Crandlemire, Simon Szykman, Jim O'Kelley, Per Westling, Mark Fassio, Tom Nash, Buz Eddy, Edi Birsan, and most of the tournament staff. We also have Dipdom's Most Wanted List for famous (or infamous) Hobbyists whom we would love to see return to (or compete for the first time at) DixieCon. Help us convince them to do the right thing: Doug Kent, Jim Burgess, Ken Peel, Eric Brosius, Andy York, Paul Milewski, Thomas Franke, Bruno- Andre Girandon, Iain Bowen, Gary Behnen, John and Kathy Caruso, Vince Lutterbie, Jack McHugh, Brad wilson, Mark Fassio, Pete Sullivan.
This will be the must-attend event of 1998. Don't you be the one who misses out.
Linda Courtemanche (Wed, 11 Feb 1998 23:04:05 EST)
Hi, Jim-Boob! Thought I'd let you know that Mrs. Deadwood in PA is still getting TAP and reading it as often as her schedule lets her! ((Are you teaching Robert to read using the szine?? Yes, you may have to ration it carefully, but what could be better to get him into college?? Look what we did for Luke Dwyer! We can start Robert out with some simpler vocabulary words.... ``spot'': when capitalized refers to a variable sized four legged creature frequently kept as a pet; otherwise, it could be what you make when you spill your milk on your clothes, or it could be where you are... as in ``wherever you go, there you are, that's the spot!''))
About Issue 200: I just had a perverse thought! Why not just fold with issue 199 and go down in hobby history?! Think about it...if you publish 200 and keep on a-goin' like Boardman, it won't be a major event. BUT if you leave it at 199, imagine how often you'll be the talk of the town! ((Yes, but then I'd have to fold for real. You'll recall that at #100 I faked a fold (that some people really fell for) to cover the extra time it took me to produce that special issue. This time, I'm taking the extra time, but I'm not faking a fold. Quite frankly, I'm not sure the postal hobby could take the pressure. It looks like Doug Kent is approaching the end of the line (at least he is talking that way) and there are only about a dozen other North American Diplomacy szines.))
I can hear it now from all corners of the hobby: ``I don't understand it, why couldn't Boob have done just ONE MORE ISSUE???!!!" ((I just can't do it, but it was an idea which crossed my mind.))
Best, with tongue firmly planted in cheek,
((Coincidentally, I'm typing this on Valentine's day. I hope you had a chocolatey one. Charlotte bought me a box of chocolate before going off to work and I just got through eating half the box and have made myself seriously woozy with chocolate overload. So, the hobby doesn't need more chocolate at this keyboard right this instant!!))
Paul Kenny (Thu, 12 Feb 1998 08:49:48 -0500 (EST))
I figured that I better get this in. I've been very busy lately. But I wanted to send you a letter for your 200th issue.
Jim! Congratulations on reaching issue 200. I should be lucky to get half that far.
I have enjoyed The Abyssinian Prince and The Boob Report since 1986, or was it 1985? I was just getting into postal Diplomacy then. My first postal game was in late 1984, but after two turns the GM disappeared, no biggie, I was already losing. 1985-86 saw my Elvis years in diplomacy. I started games in Lu Henry's Tacky, Fred Davis's Bushwacker, and I think that's about the time I started to get the Boob Report. I also remember getting a Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. ((This was my szine for running orphan games and announcing orphan information when I was the Orphan Games Custodian.... NO, that's not right! I was NOT under the covenant, so I guess I was only the custodian of the US Orphan Service!!)) Now, Jim, I have always liked the writing of press. And I have written some of my best game press for your zine. One of the better press experiences in your zine was when I took a hopeless standby position in a game called the apropriately enough ``Press Game." The German had NMRed out of the game in 1902, so all of Germany's Neighbors had conspired to take what they thought as easy centers. Well, I think I made things even easier, so I spent the rest of the game from the sidelines writing press from the grave. Jim even put in a piece on the sidelines in the margin of the page as if I had a ghost unit ready to march back on the board. ((I have always enjoyed ``ghost press'' - both writing it and publishing it - so I have always tried to encourage it anyway I can. I recall that some players actually ``complained'' about that ghost unit, Diplomacy does make people paranoid, doesn't it?)) Also, remember the story line of the kidnapping of Linda Courtemanche? That game turned out to be one of your longer games, if I remember. I did succeed in one piece of revenge, though, I distracted the players in the north enough so that the other standby, Italy in the south could grow strong enough to hold his own. Glenn Petroski eventually went on to win that game. ((Ah, is that how you remember it? With the advantage that I have in looking at the szines, I could say more, but won't. Glenn or others can comment in as much detail as they would like. I give anyone who wants to comment on Press Game carte blanche to reveal anything private that they should care to reveal. Suffice it to say by me for now that I found it a fascinating game in quite a number of respects.))
I also remember Jim printing an endgame statement for a game that I wasn't in. I was a standby, and he almost put me in this game a couple of times. Well, the game eventually ended before he really needed me. And at the end of the game, Jim asked everybody who wanted to send in an endgame statement to do so, so I felt I ought to send one in. And Jim felt he ought to have printed it. ((As everyone knows by now, that standard is not all that high. I have been known to publish almost anything.)) That may have been the only endgame statement in the hobby that there ever was from a non-player. Now, Jim, I know that you have always liked press, and black press in particular. And there are some who are not crazy about press, where they think it ``junks up the game." The nice aspect of the press is it can really act as the comic relief. When you think about it, the game of diplomacy is not a very nice game. In chess, there are only two sides, so there is no question who is going to attack each other, and it boils down to tactics and some strategy. ((I basically agree with you; however, another way to think about it is that there are six POTENTIAL enemies and if you make enemies of them all, you cannot win. Therefore, Diplomacy IS a nice game because you do not have every other player as an enemy....))
In diplomacy, loyalty to your ally can be rewarded with a stab in the back. The idea of lying to get everything one would want comes hard to many people, (which is not such a bad trait to have). But funny press can at least sweeten the bitter pill of defeat. It can give revenge from the grave of a power going down. It can give mis-information, to mask a real alliance. It can coordinate an attact with allies who don't write much. And besides, there are some players who can really write when they put their mind to it. What first brought me to your zine was a shared love of music. We both seem to like what was called then alternative, although most of that music would be considered mainstream by todays standards. But in the early to mid eighties, groups like B52s, REM, XTC, the Smiths, and Squeeze were not mainstream, and not getting played in the Philadelphia area by anyone but the local college radio stations. It was hard to get info on music that I would like, and Jim was somewhat in step with the stuff. And there is the list of the favorite music of the year. Hey, Jim, maybe you can get lists of people's favorite music of the century. ((I do plan to go for that idea sometime next year or whatever. We'll see.))
Of all the zines that I still get, TAP will always be the one that I look forward to the most. Jim, you have always done a good job, and I look forward to seeing TAP at issue 300. ((Possible, but unlikely. I won't do this forever and forever - will I?))
Pete Duxon (Mon, 26 Jan 98 12:01:06)
Jim, hello. So c'mon Jimmy what's the truth on the scurrilous rumour in Maniac' Paradise? Should I read anything into the fact that you haven't included the last ish number ((in Pete's subscription)) on the envelope!? ((What rumour?? What last ish number?? What??)) So I take it you followed the Superbowl last night. Come on you're a secret fan. ((Actually, I'm not, I called Jamie McQuinn about 9:15 figuring it must be over by then... it was tied and ``almost'' over. [Jamie could verify this...] I admit to watching the last two minutes and seeing the winning touchdown after Jamie telling me ``how could you call during the Super Bowl?'')) Is there any woman in the US who hasn't had a `relationship' with Bill Clinton?? ((Yes, Ellen DeGeneres. She's the smartest of Clinton's friends other than Hillary.)) The Tabloids view of Louise Woodward can be summed as follows - ``Poor innocent little British Girl shafted by evil Americans.". Actually I thought the jury convicted her of murder and the judge reduced the charge. I get the idea sometimes that rich couples have kids as a status symbol Big House, Fast Car, two kids etc. The standard excuse is ``we spend quality time with our baby" which I don't think works. Usually the financially challenged leave children with Grandparents rather than some stranger. The au pair system seems like exploitation to me.
((Yup, it is. I try to be careful not to engage in the other part of your speculation, dealing only with stepchildren in their twenties (which have their own special challenges) as a childless person it is difficult for me to conceive of other people's issues in these areas. I found it rather inconceivable when I took Sandy and Paul Kenny out for dinner when in Philadelphia just before Christmas that it essentially was Sandy's first time out of the house at night in two months. I'm out on the town and having 9PM to midnight dinners on a regular basis.)) You still haven't answered my question on the r*n*st*n* poll. ((What question, what poll??)) Saw the Corrs beginning of December. I had problems with my car it was snowing so I really fancied staying in. The support was naff - what was I doing here?? But they were superb. They are much much better live than on CD. I'm being taken to see James Taylor (!!) on Saturday. ((Hmmm, my brothers would like that.....)) You ought to borrow some of Brad Martin's American subbers they seem more vocal. Brad recently crticised the inclusion of George Washington in a list of the 100 great military leaders let alone being number one. Certainly riled up the US contingent. According to one Keith Oschman (one of your subbers?) without George the dream of democracy would have been snuffed out. Now I'm not going to get into the rights and wrongs of 1776 because I don't care one way or the other. But I do think it a bit strong to say democracy would have died. Actually, if anything, the loss of the colonies put back wider democracy in Britain by 30-50 years. The history of Britain had always been aimed slowly to a wider democratisation of society. Hence the importance of something like Magna Carta. ((Keith Oschman has told me that he is not interested in the szine because he isn't interested in Dip. Martin must not have much Dip content.. Oschman seems way off base. George was the ``anointed" Father of the Country, but independence was more or less a foregone conclusion once the ``split the colonies" war was lost. That was not a campaign Washington was even involved in. And it might have been inevitable anyway. England could have won had it really, really wanted to, but it didn't. Americans have always been (then and now) more impatient than you Brits. Or.... the impatient ones came here, while you stayed there, which probably is closer to the truth. I know I'm really impatient compared to practically every European I've ever met.))
((I agree that Washington wouldn't make the list of top 100 military leaders. There are at least a few (including Benedict Arnold who was the military genius behind the win at Saratoga - really) American Rev. War leaders better than him. Comparing leaders across eras is problematical and ultimately a matter of taste, but unless the top 100 has 3-4 Americans from that war, Martin is right to complain.)) What the American War of Independence did was perhaps to enable different models of democracy to flourish. Which is best? Who knows, but certainly both have their flaws.
((Well stated! I agree completely. People in my field (economists) who have studied this empirically have concluded that strangely enough the ``personal'' factors mattered more than the organizational/modeling factors. Again, keeping it concise, good leaders make good government.))
Pete Duxon (Tue, 27 Jan 98 15:10:39)
Jim, I suppose phoning someone up in the middle of the Superbowl is like phoning someone up in the middle of the FA cup final. If England are in the world cup final this summer (ha ha) and anyone phones me up they will be getting the rough end of my tongue. Seriously, how can Bill Clinton survive? I don't think it matters how many women he sleeps with but can he get away with lying!? Assuming he's found guilty of course. The dreaded I word has been mentioned I believe. ((Yeah, but politics will force him out (likely yet not certain), not direct legal troubles. That's the way our system works.)) Brad's zine contains a wide mix of board games and a fair bit of dip. It is really rather good. He seems to have alot of US subbers who I haven't seen in US zines. Other American leaders in the list were Eisenhower, Marshall and Schwarzkopf. I don't know enough to comment on the first two but with all deference to Storming Norman I don't think Iraq were that big a threat. Any why do you call it a szine?? it comes from Fanzine doesn't it? My question about the Runestone Poll was based on your saying ``we don't mention that around here". Being the nosey parker I am I wondered why.
((OK, since this IS my 200th issue, I will address each of these last two questions yet again. From my perspective, it feels like I answer them over and over and over again. I recognize that isn't your perspective but as I look back over 200 issues (and I reviewed most of them as I prepared for this issue) I'm amazed at how much repetition there is (in addition to the ``planned'' repetition in the headers).)) ((The term ``szine'' is used to emphasize the proper ``soft'' pronunciation of the word as opposed to the ``hard'' East Coast Clique pronunciation of the term with a very long ``i''. In the era when the pronunciation was hotly debated, Terry Tallman, the ToadFather came up with the szine spelling that gave us a rallying cry. Previously, the East Coast Clique had taken to calling it a ``xyn'' to accentuate the hard sound at the beginning and the ``y'' sound in the middle. As a loyal toady to the ToadFather, I have carried the subsubszine, subszine, and szine tags with grace and honor.))
((The most concise way to state my opposition to the structure of the Runestone poll is in the hobby maxim FIAWOL that originally came out of the science fiction hobby. If fandom is the point, then giving people opportunities to anonymously give szines ``1'' ratings is just not fun! Moreover, on the other end, it introduces a sense of competition that is bad for the comradery that makes a hobby fun. If one MUST have a poll, it should be a ``what are your top five szines'' kind of poll in no particular order. I have been absolutely consistent on this issue for years and years and years. Ultimately, more people STOP publishing because of it than start publishing because of it, and among the people who start, many of them quit sooner. Because discussing it ALSO is not fannish, I banned it from discussion in the szine except for occasional reiterations like this. For more detail on my feelings, if you can find it, I wrote an article for Diplomacy World with Conrad von Metzke on the question about ten years ago or more.))
Pete Duxon (Wed, 28 Jan 98 08:41:18)
Jim, had to lookup FIAWOL (Fandom is a way of life?). ((That's it exactly.)) It prompted a comment from a colleague (what a sad B**t*rd). Polls mean bugger all anyway. I agree with you over negative voting. I much prefer the way they do the British Poll which was changed last year away from the stupid preference matrix - or I see loads of zines so I can have most impact matrix. At the end of the day editors do this in their own time and I thank them one and all (approx 35) for giving me entertainment and a place to play games. Obviously I am not reading all the zine. But then again do you send me all of it? I spent ages looking for the reason for the Louise Auty dedication. Where was it?? ((At the very end, in the press for Suffren Succotash. I'm disappointed because the point was for people like you who might not read the games, would. And, you would have to read to the VERY end of the games before finding it!! I hope Louise herself saw it!!!)) Zine is pronounced Zeen over here. Xyn? - Cringe. ((But szine is SO much nicer than zeen!)) Anyway I'll shut up and annoy some other editor. Dear Jamie....
((Jamie really does have the best most ``European'' style szine in North America. It even comes out somewhat irregularly in a European manner! I was going to talk about your ``Best of 1997 tape that you sent me, but that's one of the things that I ran out of time and space for. I thank you for it, I've been enjoying it very much. I have just one question right now. Note that the Jonatha Brooke CD makes my honorable mention list, but you include a song of hers that is not on the CD. ``He's a Runner'' is a positively gorgeous song and I'm glad I have it on tape, but I'd love to know - did she put out a second record of pure acoustic music last year? I must know... This next one from Brad, I also held until this issue.))
Brad Wilson (11-6-97)
Dear Jim, I'm writing from a old favorite coffeehouse of mine in my old neck of the woods as I wait to meet a friend.
To TAP 196 - I'd like to try and get to DipCon in Chapel Hill, but it gets harder and harder for me to get the time off. I have one week of vacation next year plus two personal days. I have to fit two trips to Chicago, VGames and Shorecon into that equation. That's hard. Now, if I stay at the Express-Times for three years I get THREE weeks of vacation. Then I can go anywhere.
I vaguely knew of the IDA and its history in the mid-1970's, and while, like you, I generally oppose excessive organization, it might have been worth it to get AH on board. ((Yeah, precisely my surface reaction.))
On the other hand, given the fractious personalities involved in hobby ``leadership'' at that time, I am hardly surprised that the effort failed. People like Peery, Walker, von Metzke, Sacks, Boardman, Davis, Oaklyn, etc., etc., rarely agreed on what day it was.
I well remember the Baltimore 1982 DipCon Society meeting in which Peery, Herb Barents (aka Skaggerak, a nickname he hated), Davis, and others tried to take personal control of the DipCon process via some clever amendments. They were defeated by a Sacks-led insurgency backed by John Caruso, Kathy Byrne, and Al Pearson. That meeting convinced me no hobby organization would ever work. Inevitably, as did that meeting, it would come down to a inside clique of hobby Illuminati against the masses.
Still, it might be feasible now if only because the postal hobby is so small it could be better organized. I wouldn't encourage it but I am not sure I'd lead the charge against it as I did when Hood was talking about it a few years ago. Maybe a federation could, now, be of use?
Music stuff: next time. I need to be at home for that! - that's where my notes are. I am going to buy some new rock, etc. stuff tonight so I'll have a report next time.
I have that Boys Want Sex Uncle Bonsai on LP and it is one of my treasures. I played Lonely Grain of Corn today while driving down here. That tape is 12 years old and showing its age - I recorded it from the LP at my college radio station - and I'd like to copy it. That requires a double-tape deck which I don't have, tho'. The original ``Charlie and Me'' is on that LP and as you say it is a gorgeous, haunting song. Uncle Bonsai has - along with Randy Newman, Steve Goodman, and Richard Thompson, all A-1 faves of mine, the ability to be funny and serious in the same song. That is a rare trait! ((Indeed, that's why we like them so much...)) To my mind, it's worth having everything Bonsai did on recordings, and I almost do. Thank God!
Also played a tape of another old favorite - Naked Raygun, a Chicago punk band of the 1980's. Dated but energetic.
Dick Martin does get another zine - mine. I think he's a virtual charter subscriber. Hope you enjoyed V #116. ((Very much, as always. From my perspective, one of your issues is worth about five of mine. That doesn't put you too far behind in recent years...)) We sorely miss Dick at V-Games and hope he and Julie and Erin and the little guy will join us in '98. Interestingly, I've gotten four or five letters from people saying they almost came and regret not doing so after reading my review or Jack's in Maniac's Paradise. ((I hope that counts me too....))
My advice: next year, don't be regretful! Come to V-Games! And small children are always welcome - the house can handle them with a little supervision. It can handle ((Right here was a page break and I KNEW the next word for the top of the next page before I turned to it. It had to be....)) Jack, so it can handle anything! I would urge attending V-Games XII in '98 as my mother may be preparing to sell the house, and that would change the Games' location and emphasis. For the traditional V-Games, come to V-G XII!!
I, as with you and Dick, love that early Elvis Costello. Armed Forces, My Aim Is True, and Get Happy! are discs that are always welcome on my CD player or turntable or tape deck! I have a live concert recorded 1978 or so in Chicago and that is superb, edge-of-your-seat stuff, full of raw, crispy Elvis with some sizzling arrangements. I especially like the organ in ``I'm Not Angry''.
Note to Harry: I generally find Rachmaninoff far too romantic for my taste, but my favorite Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto is Entremant-Ormandy, precisely because of Entremant's less romantic playing. Janis-Munch on RCA is very good too. My favorite Rachmaninoff works are his solo piano pieces as played with steely, chilly power by Idil Biret and her fingers of steel on Naxos. I suspect I'd like the piano trios because a) I enjoy piano trios and b) anything called ``elegiac'' I'd probably enjoy.
Mike Barno (16 Jan 1998)
Hi Jim, I received TAP 199 on January 15 and noted its January 1 cover date. Was that a for-the-publisher's-ego cover date? ((Of course, how perceptive of you!))
I also noted assileM's drawing. Good mad-imprisoned-jester-Mike. Actually, if you put black eyepatches and black ears on the dog and count the striped TW/AmFac uniform shirt as the prison stripes, that's a picture with some accuracy. So that's all done and I'm spending part or all of February hiking and camping in south Utah canyonlands. Possibly I'll find work in North Carolina after that; if so, I'd try to make the Pan-Global Dip Con Thingie. But I might end up anywhere. We'll see. Time for new and different adventures. Maybe something associated with the Park City (UT) Winter Olympic boom.
One reason I don't comment on some letter column issues is that I know I'm ignorant about some topics (such as the change-in-American-South-since-Sixties question that prompted you about nonresponses). ((One of the reasons I brought that one up was that my personal experience in this area was a bit limited. I lived in Texas in the 80's and saw how things were there, but otherwise, I've been detached myself. I feel like I said a little more than I had a right to say and was looking for others to balance it.)) `One learns more with one's mouth closed than open.' ((Indeed!)) Another reason is the size of your sub list: you ought to be able to elicit more original and perceptive comments from someone else if my only contribution is `yep, I agree.' ((Surely, when I get some of those kinds of comments, I don't even print them.))
Craig says the American South HAS changed a lot since the Sixties. He cites the band Southern Culture On The Skids.
I'm focusing on three types of excerpts:
1) Some writings of the people we are searching for.
2) Some musical writings from people we haven't heard from for this issue.
3) A selection of former ``Desert Island Discs'' comments from the past.
Look at those dates carefully, everyone. I've inserted just a very tiny handful of modern comments and otherwise left everything unedited. I hope those of you who wrote won't be bothered or embarassed by what you wrote all those years ago. Anyone (especially Kevin Tighe and Jerry Lucas, hyork, hyork, hyork) should feel welcome to comment or add to their comments of all those years ago.
Jerry Lucas (7/15/87)
Jim - I loved TAP #6 - especially von Metzke's music comments - and yours. In order to reduce my stress level, I've been listening to more and more classical music. Began with Richard Strauss and am branching to Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Ravel, Debussy and am currently looking for a copy of Bruch's (???) Adagio Appassionata. ((I'm not exactly sure what you mean either, but that's probably why you can't find it; however, I do have a conjecture that you could have meant a composer who has been one of the subjects of the table tennis letters between von Metzke and Walker, Anton Bruckner. If so, you would be referring to the renown C Sharp Minor Adagio from his Symphony No. 7 in E Major. It is said that the Adagio was written on the occasion of the death of Bruckner's idol, Wagner, in February of 1883. The lament is then, of course, interpreted as the embodiment of the disciple's grief. Then again, you probably mean the Adagio from Max Bruch's Concerto No. 1 in G Minor. That's Bruch's only major well-known piece, at least the only one I'm aware of. Anyway, Bruch's Adagio is one of those 19th century melodic beauties that don't do much for me, but the primary theme is one of those haunting trills that one cannot get out of one's head. Take your pick and let us know which it was.)) I'm especially enjoying listening to a friend's recommendation, so I was excited by von Metzke's letter.
((As those of you who know Jerry well probably gathered, Jerry is going through some tough times right now. I didn't want to splatter his personal problems all over the szine, but I think a few friendly letters would help a lot. I sensed what the main problem was before I even read his letter and I must say I was shocked. I'm sure we all hope things turn around for him. Hmmm, I must have another upbeat letter around here somewhere... What can be more upbeat than the infinite heavens? I just threw on the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion featuring the magnificent three of Schreier, Fischer-Dieskau, and von Karajan and though it is not one of our next writer's favorites, it put me in the correct mood to type and address his letter. So, without further ramblings from the editor's chair, I present:))
Rod Walker (19 July 1987)
Dear Jim, Well, I seem to have a pile of APs here (4-6). ((I call them TAPs, but I address that question elsewhere...)) In case anybody's wondering about my general hobby silence, let me assure all I haven't vanished or burned out (how can you burn out from doing practically nothing, I wonder?). Anyway, as should be by now generally known, I'm working on a big (and hopefully not just in size) novel. This is occupying most of my time, as I intend to have a first draft of about 150K words done by the end of the year. I've got about 60-70K done at present, which means I have to push. I've received some emphatic encouragement from a friend who's well known in his own right in genre fiction. If this letter isn't already horribly long, I'll tack on a paragraph or two about the book at the end.
Right now I'm listening to an oddity: Honneger's Le Roi David, a sort of oratorio with great dollops of narration. It's an ancient recording with Abravanel. Honneger is definitely a taste you have to work at acquiring, and it hasn't worked for me with everything of his. But this is a wonderful, dramatic, luminous score, full of the barbaric spirit of the time. I wish there were a new modern recording of it. Well, let's move right on to Conrad von Metzke's letter. Hmph!
Cherubini: It's not uncommon to find opera composers criticized for writing öperatic" masses-Verdi's Requiem being the most obvious example. Similarly, öperatic" performances of such masses also come in for criticism. There is no doubt something to be said for a mass (requiem or otherwise) which is written (or performed) in a more liturgical (and hence dull) way. It's largely a matter of taste. ((I should note that you are responding primarily to my comments. Remember (everyone listen in here) that my comments are italicized and enclosed in double parentheses. The combination should make the difference clear. I know I'm biased because I sing in a church choir in one of those wonderful old Victorian churches, but we do disagree on taste once again. I enjoy the liturgical style and find the operatic style overly showy and inappropriately focused on the singer instead of the music. Oh well, c'est la vie.)) For myself, mass-as-theater is the more satisfying approach. This includes the whiplash performance by Toscanini of the C-Minor Requiem. It is (despite the cruddy sonics) electric from beginninng to end. I ought to quote Edward Greenfield, Robert Layton, & Ivan March in The Complete Penguin Stereo Record and Cassette Guide. Reviewers naturally differ, but I find their tastes are usually congruent with my own, so for me they're a pretty good guide as to what to buy.
Of the C Minor, they say,
Speaking of Toscanini, in 1962 Warren DeMotte (in his The LP/Stereo Record Guide) notes that this recording has "dramatic intensity, intellectual insight, and musical vitality". It's a popular thing in some circles to criticize Toscanini for his normally fast tempi - which, when you actually time the performances turn out not to be so fast after all. In fact, in the C Minor, Toscanini's tempo for the Kyrie seems decidedly slower (but more dramatic) than that of the Gardelli performance (not reviewed in Penguin but a very fine one). Ah, but that Dies Irae...!
As for the D Minor, the Penguin guide states:
They prefer the Muti version by a hair, by the way. Anyway, I think my point here is made: Cherubini was a dramatic composer who wrote dramatic requia. I can conceive that some circumstances or tastes might wish more liturgical renderings, but I don't see that the composer is thus well-served (other than giving the listener a possibly interesting alternative).
My own collection has Schmidt-Isserstedt for the First Symphony ("Serieuse"),
Dorati for the Second ("Capricieuse"), and one Conrad didn't mention,
Schmidt-Isserstedt for the Third ("Singuliere").
I don't have #4, the E-Flat, yet.
This symphony also has a subtitle, by the way: "Naive".
These symphonies are actually ##2, 3, 5, and 6 in Berwald's output.
His #1, composed in 1820, has apparently not been considered in the
current numbering - and his #4, composed in 1842, is lost (as are some
of his other works, including a two-violin concerto).
The Björlin recordings of the Piano and Violin Concerti are available
separately on BMI, so you don't have to buy the set of symphonies.
And a good thing, too.
The Penguin guide had some reservations about it.
The same reviewers in the later Penguin Guide to Compact Discs,
Cassettes[,] and LPs have this to say about the Järvi set:
I can't recommend these Penguin guides enough, by the way. Anyway, this is all a matter of taste but here is at least a professional opinion on the other side (of the Björlin/Järvi comparison). I think, in the end, the better sound would lead me to obtain the latter (as you did).
Bruckner: Does Conrad seriously think I'm going to let him get away with this? ((Oh, I doubt it, but at least it keeps the letters coming. I'm fascinated.)) Critical analysis of Bruckner revolves around the perception that he is an architectonic composer, one whose primary impetus is to build symphonic structures rather than to convey extramusical content. Conrad opts for this interpretation, which is not without validity. Indeed, everything Conrad says about Bruckner is true, insofar as it goes, but so what? It is a truism in music that what a composer intends to do is often not what he actually does. We see this fact most commonly in terms of shortfall: composers whose intentions are far bigger than their talents.
A really prime example in this context is Aleksandr Skriabin. This composer aspired to such cosmic significance that he intended to bring the Universe to an end by means of a multi-media piece performed in the Himalayas. His music is indeed interesting, and often has really pompous titles (Poem of Ecstasy, The Divine Poem, &c.), but wonderful as much of it is, it's far more pretention than real content. It's a good general rule, not only in music but in other areas: when mysticism feels a need to hype itself: watch out!
One fact that is clear is: architectonic composing does not preclude deep significance. In fact, one of the pieces which Conrad cites as "storming the heavens" (the Fifth) is Beethoven's most architectonic work. If you listen carefully, you'll see that the entire symphony, not just the first movement, is based on the opening 4-note motif. The same may be said of what is probably Brahms' most significant symphony, the 4th. It builds a incredible musical structure out of a minimum of melodic materials.
The issue, however, isn't whether architectonic music can have great significance, but whether Bruckner's music did. Conrad cites numerous examples (and could cite more, as could I) of compositions the "storm the heavens". I have no problem with this assertion. However, the music of Mahler and Bruckner - and more particularly Bruckner - does not so much storm the heavens as go beyond them. (In Mahler, this quality is evident most particularly in the awesome trilogy of the 8th, 9th, and 10th Symphonies.)
I'm not sure it's at all useful to debate whether Bruckner had the "talent" (whatever that is) to do this or that, nor what his intentions were. If we accept Conrad's assertion (if I may paraphrase it here) that Bruckner's symphonies are essentially contemplations of God, I can virtually say that my case is made for me. It's difficult to think of a more cosmic subject than that, n'est-ce pas? Furthermore, God in the Roman Church tradition is far more a thing of mysterium than His more cut-and-dried Protestant version. The Franciscan tradition e.g. is far more comfortable in contemplating the Unknown than (also e.g.) the Calvinist. It seems also fair to say that in matters of this sort, sincere contemplation leads to a clearer perception of the Ding an Sich. Conrad may not hear it, but it seems to me that I do: Bruckner's music is not merely a contemplation of the Unknown Infinite, but an echo of it. That is not to say that other composers have not touched this otherness - I'm sure they have - but aside from Mahler, Bruckner is the only one known to me who has done this so consistently and on such a large scale.
I'm sure Conrad will have something to say on this subject next time. Since he is in fact a great fan of Bruckner's, I was surprised to find him saying, in effect, that Anton was so shallow. I can understand the critics love to parrot this sort of obtuse assessment: "Like Wagner, Bruckner made colossal attempts at grandeur - attempts that often are merely wearisome and long-winded. ... Bruckner broke no new ground. His massive music simply exists, much as do the mountains that Bruckner loved so well." (Herbert Russcol, 1969)
One of the movements of "New Age" music these days is something called "space music". ((I have a fair amount of familiarity with its 70s precursor, also called "space music", although you may be referring to the same type of electronic ethereal music. I found it tiring and somewhat anti-life after awhile.)) This, too, is supposed to be music about various orders of infinity, never faster than an adagietto, which is supposed to put you into contemplation and/or communion with the Universe (or whatever). There's tons of this stuff being written, and a lot of it isn't half-bad, in the sense of being pleasant and extremely soothing. If you're into "space music", then be advised that Bruckner did it first, and much, much better. The "space music" people are really writing (mostly) a sort of elevated elevator music. Bruckner's elevator stops at Floor Infinity.
Kevin Tighe (5-25-87)
Hi Jim, Concerts? Living in a small town (pop. 12,000) in the heart of nowhere means not getting top 40 stars till they're well past their prime (Pablo Cruise, John Sebastian). But we do get a variety of lesser known performers who haven't quite hit the big time. In the early 80's, Robert Cray played here so often we considered him a local band.
I lean more toward folk musicians: David Bromberg, the late Kate Wolfe, McCaslin & Ringer, The Bobs, Uncle Bonsai, Christine Lavin, Golden Bough (all very good) and others. Most performances are held in a bar or at the Grange Hall and there's never more than 200 people in attendance. ((Yes, but that's the best way to see any music, no matter what the stripe.)) I went to a large outdoor concert in Eugene, OR last summer. Robert Cray opened the show, played well, and the crowd schluffed him off. It left a bad taste in my mouth. ((I know what you mean. I've given up going to any concerts that get more than 500-1000. I inevitably get disappointed (the other way too, where the crowd goes wild when nothing is happening) and those "big" concerts cost as much as three or four times what seeing a brilliant live band like the Mekons costs.))
A lot of different types of musicians do perform here - Serkay ((I think I read that group name wrong, but I can't tell.)) (good), Kronos Quartet (great), and Jerome Hines sang with a local opera company (very good). And some San Francisco performers like Martin ((??)) Buffalo and Queen Ida play Arcata yearly, putting on great dance shows. Don't know where we'd put on a concert by U2 or Talking Heads; Bono wouldn't like playing in the East Gym. ((Oh, I don't know about that. His popularity won't let him. I've seen both U2 and Talking Heads in very small venues (U2 in their very first US concert right here in Providence, RI before about 100) and I believe the performers strongly prefer the small format. But what would you have them do, play 400 shows in 200 days?))
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd rather attend a small club performance than a large concert, but so would most people.
((Agreed. Thanks for the concert notes. I'd like to see more of them from those of you who are concertgoers. I hope I didn't mangle too many of the names, I'm not familiar with everyone you mentioned.))
In order to avoid the fourth of July weekend, organizers of festivities celebrating the anniversary of the pivotal battle of the Civil War concentrated most of the events on the weekend of June 24th-26th. Charlotte and I had considered going some months earlier, but I thought we had decided not to go. On the morning of the 25th I awoke to find out that I was wrong. I do want to apologize to the dipster whom I cut off in mid-sentence as he was trying to call in orders over the phone. I was on my way out the door to Gettysburg... I'm glad that Eastern hasn't gone under yet since their cheap weekend rates to Washington require no advance purchase, so rather than paying exorbitant funeral and business fares we got cheap super-saver rates. A few short hours later we were driving into Gettysburg. I've been to almost all of the Eastern and Southern Civil War battlefield parks, but by the luck of the weather I had spent only part of one very rainy day at Gettysburg a couple years back. Charlotte had been there before we met for a whole weekend. It was very strange that I knew the terrain well enough from studying the battle extensively so everything looked just right.
The primary attraction of the weekend was the battle re-enactments and encampment set up to the south of Gettysburg. Not having planned anything, it took us awhile to figure out what was going on. It seems (probably with good reason) that the National Park Service was not letting them run the re-enactments on the original ground. Not only that, but apparently the tickets to the re-enactments had been sold out for over two weeks. After spending some agonizing time hunting around for someone with extra tickets, we decided that we weren't going to let tickets stop us after coming so far. Although we were told there would be no tickets on sale at the door, naturally there were. We saw the end of the re-enactment of the pivotal second day battle in the Wheatfield. We missed the earlier re-enactment of Stuart's cavalry battle with Custer (that happened on Gettysburg's 3rd day, remember that Stuart was late in arriving, so Lee couldn't get Stuart's usual reconnaissance). The cavalry battle (with over 400 horses) was so realistic that there were many injuries. I heard quite a few conflicting reports about how serious they were. I guess re-enactment isn't completely free of danger.
We left a little early because we still didn't have a place to stay and we knew that finding a motel would not be easy. Most of the motels in a fifty mile radius were booked solid. We drove to Frederick, found everything taken, but made a reservation at the Holiday Inn in Gaithersburg from there. At that point we were almost back to Washington and ran into solid bookings coming up from DC. By the time we arrived, there were no rooms left and two people were being turned away who had reservations (our room was guaranteed when we made the reservation from Frederick). We almost caused a riot by checking in. It was a room with one bed and was tiny. Oh well, that's what you get when you go adventuring.
Next day was back to Gettysburg early in the morning and out to the scene of the battle on the Union left from Day 2. This is a special interest of mine and I highly recommend the book Gettysburg: The Second Day by Harry Pfanz for marshalling all the facts without bias (except to the extent that Southerners weren't very good at memoir writing about the day) or judgment. If you want another diatribe against Longstreet or Stuart or Sickles, you won't find it here. My interest parallels that of Pfanz. Once you accept Gettysburg as the turning point for the North then Pickett's Charge becomes more or less irrelevant. The Union had proved that the crumblings under pressure were a thing of the past the day before. Pickett's Charge could not conceivably succeed, so its failure was not really any sort of turning point. Day 2, however, was in doubt until the very last moment and it was this loss by the South that sealed their fate. Pfanz is not taking any sides, so he does not make this conclusion, but he does cite the evidence. Read and decide for yourself. Furthermore, I have been asserting for some years that the turning point of turning points during the three desperate hours of fighting came on the front slopes of Little Round Top and the true hero was Colonel Strong Vincent. Pfanz is the first scholar in a major book to recount Vincent's story. (Not to tie this up and make it too scholarly, but John Pullen who wrote the regimental history for the 20th Maine, the leftmost of the leftmost of Vincent's regiments at Little Round Top, was aware of Vincent's story. Pullen left the key points that made Vincent more than just another hero following orders; however, out of his regimental history, written in the 1950s.) The story went unrecognized through the 1963 Hundredth Anniversary celebrations. In his bibliography Pfanz mentions a book that I had never heard of called The Gettysburg Papers edited by Ken Bandy and Florence Freeland published by the Civil War specialty publishers, the Press of the Morningside Bookshop in 1978. Clearly The Gettysburg Papers was produced as a result of similar feelings to mine though I've never seen it. One article, according to Pfanz, is an excerpt from the writings of Pvt. Oliver W. Norton, the standard bearer of Vincent's brigade.
Back around 1980, my interest developed in this little, but oh so important, piece of one of history's greatest battles in quite a roundabout way. The details will help to develop the background for my argument for Vincent. I was reading David McCullough's landmark book, The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Washington Roebling, the builder of the bridge and son of the designer John Roebling, also was at Little Round Top that day. Washington Roebling was an aide to General G. K. Warren and the first man to look out from the top of the hill on the second day of Gettysburg. Roebling arrived at Meade's headquarters, returning from leave, just in time to leave with Warren to scout the Union's left flank. Meade started Warren with the words (according to Roebling): Ï hear a little peppering going on in the direction of that little hill yonder. I wish you would ride over and see if anything serious is going on, and attend to it." Meanwhile, he ordered Sykes' Fifth Corps to come up on the left. OK, that's Meade's role. Then came Roebling, scampering to the top of the hill and confirming to Warren the importance of the ground. The Union line along Cemetery Ridge (the one that Pickett would charge the next day) could not hold with Little Round Top in Confederate hands as the whole Union line would be open to Southern cannon and rifle. Sickles had advanced too far (the Peach Orchard) and his left fell off naked into the empty space in front of the hill. Sickles was one of the goats. Once Warren reached the summit, he sent a Lt. to Sickles asking for help, but Sickles said he had no troops to spare. Warren also dragged a battery of cannon up to the summit. Sykes was up with Sickles trying to figure out where his Corps would fit in and sent an order for Barnes' division (the first in line of the Fifth Corps) to go to Little Round Top. Barnes, however, was missing during this entire period (Oliver Norton thought Barnes was off getting drunk), reappearing to get wounded and receive a reprimand for ordering his other two brigades to the rear later on.
Sykes' orderly reached Barnes' division and found Vincent's brigade. Vincent intercepted the order and led his brigade to Little Round Top immediately. Since he was killed on Little Round Top, it was his aide, Private Norton, who was left to argue that Vincent's role was the key. Privates don't get very far arguing against Generals, so historians give the credit to Warren. My dissatisfaction with the öfficial" account led me to track down Norton's account and Pfanz now marshals all the evidence in one book. Read Pfanz, who looks at things without drawing conclusions, and see if you agree with me that Vincent's role was the pivotal one. Because the generals were busy, Col. Vincent set up the troops himself (the famous 20th Maine under Joshua Chamberlain on the extreme left) and fought the battle himself, until his fatal wound. Today, if you go to Gettysburg you can stand where Warren's grand statue is and see how Vincent managed to get his troops in position (below the crest!) on the extreme left without Warren's knowledge (Warren was busy dragging the battery up the hill). Warren thought that Hazlett's Battery were the first troops on the hill and that the 140th NY (under Paddy O'Rorke, who also died on Little Round Top, his facial profile memorial on the hill has a big, shiny nose...) was the first full regiment. Warren sent O'Rorke there on his way back to headquarters to report the desperate situation. But Vincent already was there, and although O'Rorke arrived in the nick of time to save Vincent's brigade from being overrun by the division that opposed it, had Vincent waited for someone to find Barnes, had Vincent waited for someone to tell him where to post his troops once he got to Little Round Top, had Vincent placed his troops in less defensible positions (Strong Vincent was not a trained soldier), there would have been nothing to save. Sickles' entire Corps would have been surrounded and captured. The Union would have had to abandon the field. And surely there would have been no Pickett's Charge and Lee would be free to move on Harrisburg. Who knows what could have happened then.
Yes, so Vincent was the hero. Where is Vincent's memorial? Warren has the huge statue. O'Rorke has a big monument. A number of lesser regiments who were not even part of the battle have their memorials here (probably political...). Pfanz gives them short shrift, merely mentioning that other late arriving regiments took credit for "winning" the battle. But what about Vincent? The 20th Maine's marker is off in the woods above where Vincent set them up. That marker has a sign directing people to it. I had to go back to the Park Headquarters, finally, and get someone to explain to me where Vincent's marker is. If any of you go to look for it, walk west from the 20th Maine marker, across the park road, and down in the brush on the south slope of Little Round Top is a gravestone style marker on top of a rock. There once was a path leading to Vincent's marker from the open west face of Little Round Top, but the path is blocked off. The marker is supposed to be near where Vincent fell, so I guess that makes some sense. It was also the first "gravestone marker" allowed to be placed on the field of battle. OK, but please mark it so visitors to the battlefield will know who the real hero of Gettysburg was... It was still early in the morning as we headed back to the reenactment site. We beat most of the traffic going in. The camp was open, so we had a chance to tour the huge campsite. Almost everyone was in authentic costume. They were cooking breakfast, or feeding horses, or attending church services (Episcopal with the then current Book of Common Prayer, Catholic with an authentic Latin Mass (incense and everything), and so on.), or just milling around waiting for the battle to start. One of the two guns in existence known to be present at Gettysburg is the famous First Rhode Island Light Artillery Battery "B" gun that usually lives a block away from me in the State House, Providence, RI. For the first time, the gun had made the trip back to Gettysburg and it was set up in the encampment for visitors to see. I knew the story of the gun, but passers-by were fascinated and crowded around to hear the retellings. You see, there's a big dent in the muzzle of the gun and a cannonball stuck in the end. Now, for years people thought that an enemy ball had struck the muzzle and became lodged in the end. In 1962, however, a more dangerous story came to light. The gun had been struck three times during Pickett's Charge, the second one denting the muzzle. But that wasn't a Confederate ball stuck in the muzzle, it was a UNION one. You see, after the muzzle was dented, they tried to reload the gun, but the ball got stuck because of the dent. Do any of you sharpies out there see the problem?
The powder was still inside the gun! Since they were trying to load it, they had set the charge inside before trying to ram the ball home. Apparently, gunpowder becomes very unstable as it ages and this gun was sitting right in the middle of the State House, outside the Senate chamber. They dunked the gun in a pool, drilled a small hole, and removed two pounds of still explosive gunpowder from the gun in 1962. Neat story, huh?
Other people, as they were sitting around eating breakfast, were doing polyester checks. You know, people in other hobbies can be just as petty as we can, big surprise! True, there shouldn't have been any polyester in period clothes, but wool is awfully hot and the temperature was well over 90. Also, they had assembled so many people to do this that many of them had never been reenactors before. I was talking to one group of Union soldiers from Virginia (Yes, to balance out the sides, some Southerners had to play Northerners) who were recruited from their gun club to participate. They were having a great time, but they had not had time to master all the intricacies of period dressing. A pickup truck got stuck in the mud... They faked an amputation in one of the medical tents... It was lots of fun!
The field was very well suited to reenact Pickett's Charge (in fact, although all the reenactments took place basically on the same field, it was clear to me that they had chosen the terrain for its similarity to Cemetery Ridge. It even had the famous "clump of trees" that Lee directed Pickett to center his charge on. Of course, while touring the campground, watching the regiments begin to assemble for battle, we lost any hope of getting a good place to see. There were over 8000 reenactors and well over 25,000 spectators. No grandstands, either. We watched the beginning of the battle and again ducked out early. To us, the campsite was the real highlight anyway. The vastness was incredible. These people had been camping there for a week and really looked the part.
The return trip was relatively uneventful. We got back so early that we had time to take the Metro to the Mall and look around a few museums. They had an exhibit on the Mall, but it turned out to be commemorating the food, art, and culture of Massachusetts. Not only was that a little too close to home, but since Maine used to be part of Massachusetts, my wife has a typical Maine attitude toward the culture of Massachusetts, nonexistent... Then when we got back to the airport, our plane was delayed in Florida, meaning it wouldn't arrive in Washington until after 10:00 PM. You National Airport junkies like Ken Peel probably know what our next stop was. That's right, Dulles International, in a bus... You see, our plane would arrive too late to get off before the National Airport curfew. Just a friendly warning to those who have a choice about scheduling late flights out of National Airport, don't say you weren't warned about what might happen...
Brad Wilson (5/23)
Dear Jim, Hmmm, I suspect the Desert Island LPs are just a ploy to get me to write you a letter. ((Basically... you and a few others...)) I haven't been to much music lately but that's because there's not that much worth dropping the $ on. ((Ah, so it isn't just my imagination? One trend that I don't like is the tendency to do the big grand tour, even by some of the lesser known bands. More bands I want to see are skipping Providence these days. That's only going to get worse with the closing (I hope only temporarily) of Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel. I haven't started making treks to Boston yet (the late night drive home is not thrilling...), but I may have to. I missed long time faves, the Mekons, recently. The Mekons are touring to support their latest, So Good It Hurts, and it is. The album is worth it for the inside sleeve alone. Permit me some quotes. Here's one from James Watt in 1981 to Congress: Ï do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns." That goes with the song "Vengeance" with the line "Pearls of thunder pearls of wisdom, Reagan Thatcher dead and gone." I'll let you infer their politics. The music is quirky, using every instrument under the sun. Actually, I understand why they have to keep the number of dates on the road down. Their membership fluctuates, but they brought eight or nine people on their last tour. Ah, but this is Brad's letter...)) I missed Live Skull last night because of cash problems; ditto the Busboys, Sugar Blue, and Max Roach.
I did see the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti, tear through a program of Rossini's William Tell, Hindemith's Concert Music for Strings and Brass, and Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony. It was glorious - the William Tell was spectacular, the Hindemith artfully interpreted, and the Tchaikovsky done at a blistering, but sensitive pace. A delight! ((Muti is the consummate stylist, I hope you mean by a sensitive pace in the Tchaikovsky that he lets the piece build to its reaffirmation of life by not missing the melancholy tone in the second movement. In some pieces, I don't like Muti because of his tendency toward a hint of smugness. That's great for Mozart who smiles ruefully in the saddest places, but the 4th Symphony tells some of the story of his two week marriage to Antonina Miliukov which ended with Peter Ilyitch trying to freeze himself to death in the Moscow River. The melancholy is a bit more serious for Tchaikovsky and that makes the closing affirmation of life more powerful.))
Also saw a very disappointing Otis Rush show. The legendary guitarist rambled through dull instrumentals, mumbled most of the time, and had no stage presence - all for $15. One of the few bad blues shows I've ever seen. Much better was Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues at B. L. U. E. S. Etcetera in Chicago on May 8 - for just $3 you got four hours of hard-driving urban blues. Branch is a virtuoso harmonica player, perhaps (with apologies to Sugar Blue and Jr. Wells) the best in blues today. Branch plays within the songs, not going on wild forays like Sugar Blue does. His band features Carlos Williams, a fine guitarist in the Buddy Guy tradition and a real showman/ham/cutup on drums - Moses Rutues. ((I hope I got that last name right. I always enjoy your Blues ramblings since I like the blues and own a fair collection of them, but I don't know much about them.))
The SOB's strongpoint isn't vocals - Branch is OK, Williams too rough, and Rutues off-key (the bassist doesn't sing), ((Almost a cliche, other than Sting and McCartney even the superstar band bassists don't sing, but the great chops, no pipes blues bands are all too common. RI faves, Roomful of Blues, are the same way. Their best albums have come with guest vocalists like Lou Ann Barton, Big Joe Turner, and "Cleanhead" Vinson.)) Willie Dixon's granddaughter belted a couple of standards as guest vocalist and was decent. Branch's band played just a couple of originals, which is a shame because their pieces are really funny and danceably funky. Mostly they stuck to standards like "Kansas City," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Little Red Rooster," "The Thrill is Gone," and Ëveryday I Have the Blues." But they did them with aplomb, sensitivity, and flair. A down-to-earth, nuthin' fancy, gut-bucket blues band.
A pretty good Top 10 on your part - I'll have to try some Mekons, Close Lobsters, and Barone. Glad to see you picking up on Thompson/French/Frith/Kaiser, top-flight stuff!
1. Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle (Columbia, 1973) - All the Bruces are here: early longish romps ("Kitty's Bank," "Rosalita"), ballads (Ïncident on 57th Street"), presaging later rock (Ë Street Shuffle"). Edges out Born to Run by a nose. ((I won't be interrupting these, in general, but not having Shuffle I'm a little surprised. Even Dave Marsh only gives this one four stars out of five. Maybe I'll try to pick it up cheap and give it a listen.))
2. Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights (Hannibal, 1982) - When you combine epic lyrics with stinging guitar and haunting voices, you have a classic. Is there a better song - ever - than the title track? ((Nope))
3. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia, mid-1950's) - To many - including me - the jazz record. If be-bop is the best jazz, then this is the best. Davis is never better, nor is John Coltrane. Classy rhythm section - Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and James Cobb (piano, bass, drums) makes this stand out among great bop LPs.
4. Junior Wells, Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark, 1967) - Sometimes a recording catches the essence of a music, its players, and its era so perfectly it's chilling. This LP by Wells, framed with Buddy Guy and a decent rhythm section, is certainly the best thing Wells has ever done, and probably Guy as well. They helped transform the blues from country, acoustic pieces to urban, electric cuts - and this record played the seminal role in that transformation. This is the blues.
5. The Blasters, The Blasters (Slash, 1980?) - Have to take a bar band along - and the Alvin Bros. edge out Southside Johnny by a bit. This record rocks from start to finish. And the material - "Border Radio," Ämerican Music," "Route 66," ((And he lists one more that I'm not going to try. One of these days, I'm going to misread Brad's handwriting in a way that will make me look very silly. I've always enjoyed bar bands most in the bar, so though I've seen the Blasters in their heyday, I've never owned this record. Many times I have to run for my record collection to decipher names and titles. Keep the letters coming, everyone, but make sure one can read them, he says with his handwriting...)) is timeless. Great sax work, too.
6. Prince, 1999 (Warner Bros., 1983) - Wanna dance? Get this set, Prince at his barrier-breaking best. Funk? It's here. Rock? It's here! Soul? It's here! Prince, to me, is a popular music immortal and this his best. "Lady Cab Driver!" - ooh!
7. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Magnetic Flip (Ace of Hearts, 1984) - I've called these guys "the greatest American band currently playing." They're a combination of chamber music quintet, avant-garde noise, and wall-of-sound keyboards. This is, probably, their best work and worth taking just for their interpretation of the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" Theme.
8. Albert Collins, 2nd side of Frostbite and 2nd side of Cold Snap - OK, this is cheating, but together these sides would make a killer set. Collins is the bluesman of today - his guitar playing, utterly unique, blows everyone else (except Son Seals) away, his songs are the blues' best, and his voice is raspily true. Cray may get here yet, but not now. This would include AC's classic rap "Snowed In," two great shuffles (Ï Ain't Drunk" and "Brick"), and a hot instrumental, "Fake I.D."
9. Todd Rundgren, Hermit of Mink Hollow (Bearsville, 1978) - A tour-de-force from a master of pop music. This record has everything from rockers to heartbreaking ballads to experimentation. It's an overused word, but it's flat-out pretty.
10. The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones Records, 1972) - Hey, have to have some drinking/dancing music. This is the Stones at their peak - when they were, no doubt, the "World's Greatest Rock n Roll Band." "Rocks Off" makes this a must by itself.
Hate to leave the Neville Brothers, Little Feat, AC/DC, Uncle Bonsai, Run-DMC, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Muddy Waters, all my classical stuff, Hüsker Dü, LL Cool J, George Clinton, Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffett, Meat Loaf, and Talking Heads on the dock, but...
((Wow, thanks, Brad. You remind me of all sorts of things I've been meaning to get for years but never have. I hope this spurs me and others to fill in those significant gaps...))
Terry Tallman (no date)
The 5 or 10 records etc. I would take to my desert island would be headed by Frank Zappa's Old Masters collection. Basically he gathered up about 10 or 20 of his early records and released this huge collection. Lucky me. I bought all his early stuff as it came out. I have about 40 of his records. I've missed some of the later stuff.
I probably would throw the Beatles White Album in because it is transitional from their early stuff to more statement oriented material.
The Ventures Lonely Bull. Strange, maybe, but I can listen to it over and over.
The Doors' Greatest Hits. To many drunken nights in the late 60's, early 70's.
Gordon Lightfoot's Greatest Hits. Same era and nostalgia factor as the Doors.
The soundtrack from the movie Sweet Charity, the soundtrack from the Broadway version of Man of La Mancha. My two favorite musicals.
The Pirates of Penzance with Linda Ronstadt. I get one of my favorite ladies with great pipes and another great musical.
Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. That's another old nostalgia item.
And 20/20 by the Beach Boys. The best of their non-beach stuff in my view. When I bought my stereo in Japan I had enough money left to buy that record. It was my most listened to record for years.
And I would tuck in a trumpet so I could play the stuff I couldn't bring along.
((Thanks, Terry, that makes two interesting, divergent views. Can we have some comments, some more entries? I know, I know, it would help if I kept up with publication. I've got two more old short music notes and then I'll be caught up and waiting for new material. One thing worth commenting on while doing retrospectives is the proliferation of nostalgia on the radio. It still angers me that the pop of the 80's is known by so few people. The pop of the 80's, to me, is characterized by the dB's (if I had to choose one band) and how many of you have ever HEARD of the dB's? Come on, everyone raise their hands high. See what I mean? Other bands to hunt for if you like pop music and can't stand what passes for Top 40 on the radio (with a few exceptions, current faves of mine are 10,000 Maniacs and Bruce Hornsby) are Robyn Hitchcock, REM, Game Theory, Go-Betweens, Marti Jones, XTC, Miracle Legion, Let's Active, anything produced by Don Dixon or Mitch Easter (including Don Dixon's own stuff, Mitch fronts Let's Active), the Bongos, and don't forget Close Lobsters! Actually, once I mention the Lobsters, there really is a separate school of British bands, probably best characterized by the Housemartins, that are quirky in the tradition of XTC. The other bands I mentioned are the products of the US of A and is by no means a complete list. But these bands all are writing pop songs in the sense of hummable tunes, breezy lyrics, and lush production, but in a distinctive 80's style. That makes them somewhat fluffy, to be sure; however, for the most part commercial radio won't touch them. To this day I'm not sure why. REM has broken through a little bit and they are the least poppy of the bunch. Go on, SLUDGE, tell me why! In the interim, since typing this, but before sending it out, I briefly spoke to SLUDGE about this issue. He commented about my "power pop" tastes being a little boring. Sigh, I suppose that's true, but why can't it play on the radio? It's less boring than what's there now.))
((Remember that the current ``theme'' for the letter column is a return to a contest from five years ago or so - Desert Island Discs - the BBC has celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of the original program earlier this year. The idea is that you name the eight discs that you would take with you to a desert island to live by yourself forever. I've been asked: ``Why 8 and not 10?'' The answer is that's the way the original BBC program did it, and I think still does it. You people should also take advantage of the ill-defined nature of the question to digress on any aspect of the universe you please. All rules around here, as usual, are made to be broken. Remember, this szine is a center of hobby anarchy. As usual, letters on other subjects also are welcome.))
Conrad von Metzke (7 June 92)
Note: Only 8? Why not 10 as is normal? Anti-metric? ((Hey, write to the BBC and ask them! See above. It wouldn't surprise me if the BBC is anti-metric.))
Note 2: You didn't mention taking anything to play these on, let alone access to an outlet. ((The island of The Tempest perchance? Prospero and Ariel will work their magic - you just choose the music.))
Note 3: Are we talking discs or albums? I'm assuming the latter 'cos it meets my needs. But it's cheating. ((Nah, go ahead!))
1. Haydn - Symphony #44. Vienna Symphony, Hermann Scherchen. Westminster LP, c. 1953. There are some - I'm one - who consider this the greatest Haydn symphony disc ever made. Expect a CD reissue soon; Scherchen is `in' and MCA are reissuing lots of the old Westminster treasures.
2. Beethoven - Symphony #5. Berlin Philharmonic, Ferenc Fricsay. DGG LP (later Heliodor), 1957. They don't get any more fiery and driving than this, even taking all the repeats. (43 min.!!!)
3. Brahms - Symphony #4. Phil. /Sym. of N. Y. , Bruno Walter. Columbia LP, c. 1954. Not to be confused with the later version (Columbia Symphony) which is in current re-release. A very languid, ``traditional'' performance in near-modern sound. You will never hear anything like this, ever again.
4. Bruckner - Symphony #8. Concertgebouw, Eduard van Beinum. Epic LP (2), 1955. By some standards (mine) the ultimate reading of the ultimate music, using the ultimate score.
5. Schubert - Schwanengesang (song cycle). Hans Hotter, Gerald Moore. Angel LP, 1959. Some people dislike this; close miking makes Hotter a tad breathy, and his voice is heavier than ``ideal.'' Me, well, I love it, in part I'm sure because his voice sounds very much like my own (I wonder what he could do with it now? He's 83 but still singing for L. A. and S. F. Operas).
6. Mozart - Marriage of Figaro. Cesare Siepi, Hilde Gueden, Alfred Poell, etc. ; Vienna Philharmonic, Erich Kleiber. London LP/CD, 1956. By virtually all accounts the definitive complete (4 LP, 3 CD) recording. Sound good, better in LP. Only notable flaw is 15 seconds of recitative in Act IV, which had to be spliced in from a radio tape because one of the leads (Alfred Poell) died before recording was finalized.
7. Haydn - Mass #14. Vienna Volksoper, George Barati. Lyrichord LP (MHS CD?), 1960. Haydn's last work, slow, retrospective and monumental. This version had a `snap' that no later edition quite matched.
8. Reserved. I'll make my final choice when the boat sails.
Really useful list. ((Agreed!!)) Only #6 (and maybe #7) is currently in print.
Dick Martin (30 Sep 92 22:28:48 EDT)
Dear Jim, So it's back to the desert island huh? Hard to beat a desert island, a good power source for the CD player and a good pair of speakers...provided it's a warm desert island! But before I go into that, my early nominees for best of 1992 are Lindsey Buckingham's Out of the Cradle and Lyle Lovett's Joshua Judges Ruth. Out of the Cradle is just amazing - a lot prettier than I usually go for, but not cloying as pretty records can sometimes be. Lyle is just amazing, in his dry sort of way. I slapped these babies back-to-back on a tape and it's never out of the car for long. I'm also growing to like U2's Achtung Baby more and more every time I hear it. The songs are quite a departure from their usual style, and I find the mechanical sound and personal lyrics complement each other quite nicely. I know I said this one wasn't very good a long time ago, but that's because I hadn't listened to it loud enough. At higher volumes it sounds much better. That's a common mistake of mine - to listen to records too quietly the first time. As it says on the Ziggy Stardust sleeve: ``PLAY LOUD!" Too many dud songs on Achtung Baby for it to be truly great, but that's what the remote control is for.... The car speakers are getting blown out though.
I've had a hard time getting that Billy Bragg record out of the CD player lately, too. ((Yeah, remember that it made my best of 1991 list, but it didn't seem to get much attention elsewhere. I'm not entirely sure why.)) 1992 hasn't been nearly as good as 1991 was, far as I can tell. Anyway, back to the desert island. My ground rules are pretty simple. Only one record per band, and no anthologies allowed (otherwise I'd just end up listening to Beatles 1962-1966 endlessly....).
1. London Calling by The Clash. The best album ever made. Not only that, but it was a double album for only a buck or two more than a single disk when it first came out. Now on a single CD, any collection without this record is just incomplete. (favorite track: ``Brand New Cadillac'')
2. Quadrophenia by The Who. Tommy may be the first and most famous ``rock opera" but Quadrophenia leaves it in the dust. The best bassist and the best Keith Moon-style drummer cut loose for two disks worth of explosive music. (favorite track: ``The Real Me'')
3. Life's Rich Pageant by REM. Impressionistic, pretty songs played with the amps and distortion cranked up to 11. (favorite track: ``Begin The Begin'')
4. Revolver by The Beatles. I was too young to have appreciated Sgt Pepper at the time, I suppose, while Revolver still sounds cutting edge today. (favorite track: ``Tomorrow Never Knows'')
5. Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen. Stripped down and intense. Not as nice sounding as Born to Run or The River but power to burn here. (favorite track: ``Darkness on the Edge of Town'')
6. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan. Simple and from the heart. (favorite track: ``Tangled Up In Blue'')
7. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Perfect pure pop. So shoot me. Too bad I think Stevie Nicks is a waste of good vinyl. (favorite track: ``Go Your Own Way'')
8. Unforgettable Fire by U2. Joshua Tree may have better songs, but this one is better as a whole. After the first two songs, the whole record flows beautifully. (favorite track: ``Pride (In the Name of Love)'')
Oops! How could I possibly live on a desert island without one last favorite: Back In Black by AC/DC. I don't think I've got a better record for playing in the car at high speed with the windows down. Can't play it too often though, or my throat starts killing me - how can anybody possibly scream like that? Heavy metal with the emphasis on rhythm instead of just flash guitar makes this great for singing/dancing/driving or just jumping around. So I cheated, so what? At least I didn't inhale.
Too many honorable mentions to go through. I've chattered on long enough. Keep those cards and letters coming!
Mark Nelson (Thu, 17 Sep 92 16:09:49 BST)
Jim, Two simple questions for you (I'm working on a brief article on pubbing):
(a) Why did you start to pub; ((I started as a subszine of the Toadfather's szine North Sealth, West George, and I came in to run games for Terry who was a terrible GM while I thought I would be good at it and would like it. I was and I do. The rest is all gravy.))
(b) Which zines have influenced your approach to pubbing? As well as names try to explain what they've influenced. ((Gary Coughlan's Europa Express always had a little space for personal notes from the pubber and he used to write 130 of them each month! Well, at least I leave space for notes even if I don't always get around to writing them. Terry's szine gave me the attitude toward the hobby of freewheeling fun that I try to maintain in the press. The music letter column and the rest has no real influence, except the sense of niche - each pubber should have their own unique topic area - oh yeah, I guess I got that from Scott Hanson's Irksome. I took over the hobby's official end of the year music poll from him. My deadline policy comes from Russ Rusnak's Who Cares?. Oh, and I stole the format for my house rules from Melinda Holley's Rebel and Bruce Geryk's Blunt Instruments. I think Melinda is the only one still publishing. Is that OK?))
I started to think about producing a desert island books last night as I couldn't get to sleep. I managed to think of a good 4 or 5 titles to put on it so it looks like it will be finished before I get round to producing a Desert Island Disks selection for you.
Actually I've started to make some movement on that recently. I've decided to limit my selection to records which I actually own. Hence no compacts, no tapes, no radio performances... since my record collection is not very extensive (compared to many people on your mailing list) I should have something out REAL SOON. I already have selected two of my eight LPS, six to go!
You're right that the BBC still goes by the 8 record selection.
Doug Kent (11 Nov 92 15:40:08 EST)
Jim-Bob, My much-awaited Desert Island Disc list, in no particular order: Rush - Moving Pictures - Probably their best album, although sometimes I'm partial to Permanent Waves. However, with tracks like ``YYZ,'' ``Limelight,'' and ``Red Barchetta,'' *this* is the one I'd want to take with me. Allan Holdsworth - Metal Fatigue - Allan Holdsworth's last album before his journey into the land of the Synthaxe. Some of his best solo work. I especially like ``Panic Station". The Beatles - White Album - Hard to choose which Fab Four album to put on the list, so I'll choose this one just because of the wide spectrum it covers. I'd prefer to find a way to take ``Revolution 9'' off the thing, and replace it with other tracks by various artists equalling the same length. Is that allowed? ((Sure, put it on tape...)) Tony Williams Lifetime - Believe It - Believe it, I'd take this album. Just reissued on CD, along with ``Million Dollar Legs". The new CD reissue would be my preferred choice (as it contains both albums on one CD), but I want to be ``true" to the original releases. Elton John - 11-17-70 - Live Elton John, before he got old and lost his hair and voice. Great versions of ``Sixty Years On,'' ``Take Me to the Pilot,'' and ``Burn Down the Mission.'' This choice also wasn't easy. I only want to take one Elton, and it was between this, Tumbleweed Connection, Blue Moves, and Honky Chateau. Pink Floyd - The Final Cut - Originally I had an ELP album in here, but cut it for this. What can I say? I like it, and its my frigging list, so I'll put what I want on it! Steely Dan - Greatest Hits - Again, a cheat. I'd take something else, but what else has all this plus ``Here at the Western World" on it? Nothing. Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel - This is the one with ``Solsbury Hill" and ``Here Comes the Flood" on it. This finds it's way into my car cassette player all the time, but I can't really tell you why. ((Partly because it IS great road music. I don't do music in the car as much any more, but when I did this was one of mine too.))
Picking eight was harder than I thought. Runners up were Look Sharp by Joe Jackson, ((Ah yes, Spring of 1979 - it became a great summer album, but I was on top of it early.)) a few ELP albums, Fragile by Yes, the Ramones first album, and for pure pop sake, the long dance version of ``What do All the People Know" by the Monroes. Not that I can dance...
``To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity. To believe in material development is to believe in matter itself. By keeping faith in human greatness, the soul returns once again to the source from which it springs.'' Wilhelm Furtwängler
((This issue marks the end of the Desert Island Discs theme. Amazingly, setting a deadline did wonders for getting those lists in, even for me! Let's get to some great Desert Island Disc lists, leading off with Petey:))
Pete Gaughan (11/24/92)
Jim - I don't believe it, but I'm actually doing my own Desert Island Disks. I'll stick to 8 but allow myself some `collections.'
1) Beethoven, The Complete Symphonies, Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. All the mechanistic tendencies you dislike in Karajan are just why I enjoy this set. (also nostalgia - it was my first major music purchase, and it hit the market while I was in Austria.) Really, though, the music is more important than the conductor (heresy!) and Ludwig goes everywhere I go.
2) The Nylons, One Size Fits All. There are some great tunes on their later disks but One Size is the jumpin'-est.
3) Metropolis (the movie score) ``constructed and adapted'' by Giorgio Moroder. Sorry, I grew up musically in choruses, bands and small groups - during the lush orchestration of the early 80's. ((You don't have to keep apologizing - many agree with you about Karajan's approach to Beethoven - I like a lot of things that aren't ``correct'' too.)) So here's Pat Benatar, Adam Ant, Loverboy, Cycle V, etc., etc., all with synth percussion and heavy reverb and a `message' in every song. Oh, and a Freddie Mercury song leads off: ``Love Kills.''
4) Bob Dylan, Biograph. While all my classmates were learning about the Stones, the Who, Def Leppard, and (for my sister) the Bay City Rollers, I was building a Dylan collection. Then Biograph came out and I sold all my scratchy vinyl to buy this on CD. Sort of.
5) Handel, The Messiah. ((Which version? See my discussion ] below.)) Gotta have something I can sing along with! Has the advantages of being long, varied and provides 3 parts I can sing for each chorus, most of the time.
6) Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend. Yeah, another `greatest hits.'
7) Vivaldi, The Four Seasons and the Mandolin Concerti. Whoever does this all on one disk gets to come along to my desert island.
8) The Irish Rovers, Life of the Rover. More sing-along. Like the Nylons, this leaves out a lot of good tunes (from ``Hardstuff'' to ``Unicorn'').
Near misses: Rick Wakeman (Journey to the Center of the Earth); Bruce Springsteen; Mike Gaughan (Tomasi's Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra plus Haydn's Concerto for Trumpet in E Flat pluys misc. pieces); Chuck Mangione; Mozart. If Limbo Slam had a full disk, I'd consider them but I doubt they'd make the desert island list. Blyth Power and June Tabor and Five Hand Reel, all from the UK, didn't make it. One disk I've listened to death lately is the soundtrack from The Civil War by Ken Burns. It's soothing and emotional and infectious. ((Keith will be so pleased that you mentioned Limbo Slam! Coincidentally, he's up next...))
Keith Sherwood (11/27/92)
With my desert island disks starting to show up in other people's lists, I'd better get mine in before the ship's library is too depleted. Rather than take the premise of ``Best 8 albums'' or ``My favorite 8 albums,'' I tend to take the scenario a little more seriously. If I were to be stuck with only 8 records to listen to for a lengthy period of time, what would I listen to over and over again and still enjoy? Here the ugly spectre of nostalgia pops up, because if I'm going to be stranded (say, on an island) with nothing but a handful of discs and my memories, the discs better invoice some damn good memories.
First up - since it was mentioned last time - is Look Sharp by Joe Jackson. Released in 79, it still held sway at dorm parties in 81/82, every song a frenetic dance number of young English angst. Impossible to pick a best cut among ``One More Time,'' ``Is She Really Going Out With Him,'' ``Look Sharp'' and the rest. If Doug Kent beat me to the ship's library on this one, I could substitute English Beat's Just Can't Stop It from the same time period and another dorm party favorite. While Look Sharp is ska-influenced, Just Can't Stop It is the high water mark of the ska revival that coincided with the new wave. If the songs on these two albums don't get you up and dancing, give your spot on the lifeboat to somebody else, 'cause you're already dead.
Joe Jackson, by the way, continues to produce standout albums to this day; gone are ska and irresistible dance tunes, replaced by adult angst in complex but rewarding songs. He'd make it in my year end list every year if I ever bothered to get one in, but I digress. ((Hah! I want a list from you this year!! If you're going to digress, stand behind your statements with action. I agree with you about Joe Jackson's recent albums, by the way.))
I'll need something to flag down passing ships. Some hard rock though not necessarily heavy metal should do the trick at sufficient volume to signal ships that on my deserted island there is life, if not necessarily intelligent. By passing the slightly overrated Led Zeppelin and avoiding the last ten years of pretenders to the thrown ((sic)), let's go with Aerosmith Toys in the Attic ('74?) which with ``Walk This Way,'' ``Sweet Emotion,'' ``Big Ten Inch'' for humor and the title cut, it is the best of the genre.
While still in the mid-seventies, I must pick something from 1976, the summer in which I discovered AM radio and the Boss radio format (thankfully, I moved on to FM and free format within two years). Candidates include Boston and Fleetwood Mac Rumours, but the nod goes to Hotel California by the Eagles. A well balanced album with a hit ballad (``New Kid in Town''), a couple of hard rockers (``Life in the Fast Lane,'' ``Victim of Love'') and the ever so interpretable title cut. Remember the days when albums included posters, and you actually put them up on the wall?
I'll have to beat Dick Martin to the ship's music library to get London Calling by the Clash (79). Although I recoil at calling it the best ever, it is undeniably great, and one of the few (only?) exceptions to Bob Olsen's record buying rule ``never buy a double album (hasn't been a double album ever made which wouldn't have made a better single record).'' I can't find one that isn't a keeper in the lot. I must disagree with Dick on best cut, however; ``Clamp Down'' is the Clash at their politico-rocker best, and perfect for a college drop out working the sweat-shops of Seaworld (``the men at the factory are old and cunning, you don't owe nothing so boy get running, it's the best years of your life they want to steal''). But, Keith, Seaworld was 84-86, you say. Well, yes, but the aforementioned New Mexican FM did me the disservice of only ever playing ``Train in Vain,'' and since FM did such a fine job of playing lots of different cuts from albums, I was led to believe that the rest of the album wasn't any good. ((It's good to hear someone else say that. I was a college radio DJ in that time and I might be able to shed some light on it. The Clash were trying to hide the cut (as I would assume most of you know, ``Train in Vain'' is not listed on the album jacket or the record face) and that was one of the ``left handed monkey wrench'' tricks we used to play on rookies so people used to overplay the song to prove they could find it. I think trying to hide the radio single just made the radio DJ's in general all the more determined to play it. In sum, the Clash's ploy failed. I always used to lobby to keep ``Train in Vain'' off our party tapes in some reverse snobbery. As you say, every cut's a keeper.)) It took until Jan. 83 and the advent of all newwave FM here in San Diego for me to learn it was New Mexican FM which wasn't any good. If there's only one copy on board the sinking ship, I'll find Dick Martin and feed him to the circling sharks for London Calling. There is no substitute.
Like Doug Kent, I, too, have a cheat. And like Doug it is a Steely Dan compilation. But I'll take their other compilation, A Decade of Steely Dan. Like Doug, my reasoning is how else am I going to get ``My Old School,'' ``Reeling in the Years,'' and ``Deacon Blues'' (plus everything else)? No particular nostalgia here, (which is why it's a compilation) just excellent musicianship. Each guitar break is incredible. Their solos, whoever performed them (and they had a lot of different session workers), were always tasteful but hot riffs.
But Martin is correct; if we are to allow compilation albums, The Beatles 63-66 is best album ever made end of discussion.
I must have something from the watershed rock year of '71. Passing over Who's Next, I'll take the Stones best ever effort, Stickyfingers. Solid all the way through, with the added bonus of the extended jam on ``Can't You Hear Me Knocking?''
While I am tempted to pull number seven from the seventies as well, establishing myself as a classic rock format low-life (when you know, Jim, that isn't true), ((I'm much happier to hear you say it. I had been getting worried and calling 1971 a watershed year for anything except your two mentioned choices, or perhaps a progressive rock nod to a Genesis album or Rick Wakeman as Pete mentioned, sort of turns my stomach. If you had chosen Lynyrd Skynyrd next, your copy of this issue would have green splotches!)) better get in the nineties (or at least the eighties) with U2's Joshua Tree. Yeah, I know it was their most commercial effort (or rather, their most commercially-produced effort) but I saw them 3 times on this tour, including both times at Tempe filmed for the Rattle and Hum movie (but didn't make it in).
Number eight we'll digress from rock entirely and go with some recording - any recording - of Beethoven's Ninth. My favorite piece of classical music, and more than complex enough to listen to again and again, discovering new nuances.
One final note: if I wait five years for rescue on my island and the first ship by says Nirvana is the biggest act since Elvis/Beatles/U2, I'll stay on the island for another five years waiting for society to come back to its senses. ((Hey, you know I agree with you! Nirvana is OK, but that's it!! We've always had grunge and we'll always have grunge (hey, boys and girls, it's NOT new), but that gets old fast. Gee, the Ramones are popular again...))
Mark Nelson (Tue, 8 Dec 92 17:01:26 GMT)
Dear Jim, Here at last are my Desert Island Disc choices. I restricted my choice to LPs, if I hadn't have made this simplification then I would still be dithering over my choices today!
I ditched the extensive notes I made on my choices...
(1) Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers: The King of New Orleans Jazz. RCA International INTS 5092 (NL 43434)
Sixteen tracks recorded between September 15th 1926 and June 11th 1928 which represent the pinnacle of recorded New Orleans Jazz. Jelly Roll Morton may not have invented Jazz, as he claimed, but he shaped it's development in the early years of this century and was the first great Jazz composer and arranger. Listening to this record one discovers that there is so much more to New Orleans Jazz than the clanking banjo of the revivalists: effective use of different tempii, rhythmn, dynamics, trick endings, breaks and soloes. Jazz muscians of any style should listen to this record to learn that there is more to good Jazz than good soloes.
(2) Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool (Capitol CAPS 1024)
This, multiracial, band was at the frofont of the transition from Bebop, with its emphasis on violent rhythmns and improvisation, to the West coast stle of Jazz, with its more laid-back feel and orchestral approach, which would dominate the Jazz world for much of the 1950's (John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz were all associated with the band). The nonet's instrumentation was non-standard (trumpet, trombonem French Horn, tuba, alto sax, baritone, piano, bass and drums) and arranger Gil Evans used it to present an extraodinary variety of ideas and concepts, in the process raising the question of the relationship between soloist and the ensemble; a question which received one answer in Sketches of Spain. Recorded 1948-49.
(3) Billie Holiday: Lady Sings the Blues (Verve 2317 059)
These are the original versions of the songs featured in the film of the same name and were recorded between 1946 and 1958. Holiday's bitter-sweet voice is deeply moving (I much prefer her later recordings than her 30's/early 40's work). The greatest Jazz singer? I think so.
(4) Little Walter: Boss Blues Harmonica (Chess compilation)
24 classic tracks from the man who defined the use of a harmonica in a R&B setting and helped Muddy Waters to ply the path that would eventually lead to the birth of rock and roll.
(5) Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain (CBS 32023)
Featuring the lyrical trumpet of Miles Davis and the individulastic arranging skills of Gil Evans, recorded over the period November 1959 to March 1960. This record is one answer to the question of the relationship between solo and ensemble. Here the two fit together like hand and glove, lock and key. The ensemble and solo are integrated so as to reinforce each other, each is integral to the other; an atypical answer in Jazz.
One of *the* classic recordings of ther 20th century.
(6) Carla Bley Escalator Over The Hill: A Chronontransduction (JDA 3LP STEREO JT 4001).
Recorded between November 1968 and June 1971 this record combines the compositional skills of Carla Bley and the lyrics of poet Paul Haines. Asides from the first composition this triple-record set contains a series of short pieces which fade into and out of each other, with redevelopment od ideas and motives: a mixture of Jazz, Rock and Indian music.
(7) Lynyrd Skynyrd: One More From The Road (MCSP 279)
Recorded live in Atlanta, Georgia in July 1976. A collection of their most popular tracks, including an extended version of ``Free Bird.'' Excellent lyrics, arrangements and musicianship. What more could you ask of a rock group?
(8) Lester Bowie: Avant Pop
Modern (Free) Jazz is often... not easy listening. In his work with the AEC and in hiw own recordings Lester Bowie manages to embedd the spirit of Free Jazz into a more traditional Jazz style. In this record Bowie updates the New Orleans Brass Band tradition. Instrumentation is: 4 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, French Horn, Tuba and Drums. Tracks include some well known pieces (``Saving all my love for you,'' ``Crazy'') as well as some new pieces. A record which shows that Modern Jazz can be phun!
((You had me cryin' for leaving all the jazz and blues out of my list (of course, there's no way you can include everything). Jelly Roll, in particular, is timeless. Your Lynyrd Skynyrd choice sticks out a bit, for me, but it's your list. I'm generally trying hard not to comment on each person's list, but thank you, they're all welcomed and of interest!))
Larry Peery (28 Nov 1992)
And you thought I was going to overlook this... ((No, but those who believe Peeriblah must be longwinded are going to shocked by your brevity...)) I read with interest everyone else's choices for their eight discs on that mythical island...well, here's mine.
First, every selection included must contain a tune, theme or melody which is either singable, hummable, or whistleable; and, if possible, danceable. Second, my discs would have to be custom-made, I'm afraid. Third, there would be a lot of eclectic stuff and considerable cross-over.
Disc #1 would be orchestral, #2 solo instrumental, #3 vocal classical, #4 vocal operatic and musicals, #5 would be openly or repressed gay composers (in any form), #6 would be openly or repressed gay performers (in any medium), #7 would be chanteuses and chantclers from all periods, and #8 would include my one attempt at a musical composition (I wrote the lyrics and Barbara Collier wrote the music); Mike playing Scott Joplin on the organ, piano, cello, and recorder, me (from years ago) on the trumpet; representative selections from works and locations I've attended live; and finally, Eric Ozog whispering, ``Remember, thou art Peery!''
Finally, as I grow older I find that my preference has moved away from the large, bombastic pieces toward the smaller solo and ensemble pieces. Twenty years ago there would have been precious few solo works, or chamber works; today that would be different.
Daf Langley (12-2-92)
Dear Jim-Bob - Sorry I missed the last deadline. I'm not used to your three week deadlines. ((No problem... you weren't alone.)) If I only get 8 albums (CD's, cassettes), I would take the collected works of Queensrÿche; Pearl Jam's 10; Luciano Pavarotti singing ``Ave Maria'' (I would take a single, but any tape of his music would be fine if that song were on it); Paul Simon's Graceland; Kiss Alive; Doobie Brothers Greatest Hits (before Mike McDonald); Dire Straits Brothers in Arms; Moody Blues Legend of a Band. Probably a bit lowbrow after some of the answers I've seen, but it's what I like.
((I think you actually have a neat list. I wouldn't apologize if I were you, thank YOU!))
Yes, I have my list put together. Lots of discs that other people chose really tempted me to alter my choices, but ultimately I decided to stick with the list that I'd put together on my own, with a tiny amount of overlap to anyone else's list. I'll begin with my most difficult choice. I had to choose something from around 1980, absolutely had to. But what? I considered Look Sharp and London Calling, along with a Joy Division album (for true suicidal angst, but since I decided to try to survive the desert island...) or Rockpile's Seconds of Pleasure (to give me just that... the run of ``Wrong Again,'' ``Pet You and Hold You,'' ``Oh What A Thrill,'' and ``When I Write the Book'' is nearly unparalled in pop for me). But none of them would quite do. This was a period of wild dancing parties, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello (Get Happy! is a sleeper here), Squeeze, Blondie, and U2. Ah, U2. What about choosing Boy! U2's first album remains my favorite with ``Stories for Boys,'' ``Out of Control,'' and the essential ``I Will Follow.'' But no. It is too boyish, too inconsistent. There is only one choice. It's the only album that would get put on the stereo and danced straight through - start to finish.
1) Yes, it has to be I Just Can't Stop It by the English Beat. Starting with THE ska song, ``Mirror in the Bathroom,'' and then grab her with ``Hands Off... She's Mine.'' ``Two Swords'' and ``Twist and Crawl'' leave you crawlin' and then Smokey's song buries you. ``Rough Rider'' picks it back up to lead perfectly into the faster and faster ``Click, Click.'' After death, Ranking Roger takes over to bring everyone to a full stop with a ``Big Shot.'' ``Stand Down Margaret'' was a must until she did and ``Can't Get Used to Losing You'' is beautiful, and so it goes. That's number one. I actually don't own this one, I only have it on tape. We'll get an extra copy of Look Sharp for the ship's library so Keith doesn't have to take my Beat away.
2) Next is even earlier - before there was new wave, there was space rock. In the only compilation (I have a nearly complete collection of this group, including the rare Sunday Night at London Roundhouse [only a German import] and both mixes of A Tab in the Ocean), I choose Nektar's Thru the Ears (Import Records 9001, 1978) Here I get Larry ``Synergy'' Fast, the number one originator of the synthesizer revolution as a guest on ``It's All Over'' but I don't miss ``King of Twilight,'' ``The Dream Nebula,'' of ``Desolation Valley.'' Part 1 of ``Remember the Future'' is sufficient as a taste. We also get the rockin' raucous side of the band in ``Astral Man.'' This is the best of all of the sides of the progressive space music of the seventies. I was and am hooked.
3) I suppose the next logical place to go is Richard Thompson. Ghod must go with me. There are many, many fine albums to choose from here. I've still gotta choose Shoot Out the Lights (Hannibal Records 1303, 1982). With the backing band of Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Pete Zorn, and Dave Mattacks on drums every shift in tone, rhythm, or chord is perfectly seamless. We also have Linda's incomparable (well, almost, I sincerely shall miss Emma Kirkby!) vocals and the palpable emotion tearing the record in two. I've said too much about this in these pages before. It sets up expectations that make you (the reading audience) not like it. It's essential for me.
4) Fear and Whiskey (Sin Records 001) has a well deserved number. It's the Mekons, of course, the world's greatest rock band. This one makes me laugh, it makes me dance, it makes me cry. PERIOD. ``Darkness and Doubt,'' ``Chivalry,'' and ``Trouble Down South.'' are perfect songs of angst. ``Last Dance'' is one of the best late night party songs ever. But ``Hard to be Human Again'' says it all. It really is ``the sort of music that drags you from your sweat soaked bed and makes you want to put your clothes on and maybe take 'em off again a bit later...'' [italics in original].
5) By chance we ended up in a bit of a 50-50 split that each split again in half. I'd group Nektar and Richard Thompson for the songs and thought provoking side of pop. The English Beat and the Mekons represent the party side. Now we turn to more classical genres. These next two are popular and the last two are from my beloved 18th century Baroque period. To follow the Mekons, and to make the shift easier, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd; The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (RCA RCD1-5033, 1979, is the original highlights recording I have) has to go. Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou are wonderfully gritty and I love Sondheim's black comedic sense in ``A Little Priest.'' Heavenly! It's not as hearty as bishop, perhaps, but then not as bland as curate either. But it's the minor key changes and the sheer power of this music that makes me want to take it along.
6) Next? What about Christmas?? I must take along Simon Preston's organ, Sir David Willcocks' arrangements and conducting, with the Choir of King's College, Cambridge and On Christmas Night (London D-115019, 1962 remastered digitally in 1989). There's nothing else like Willcocks' arrangement of ``O Come All Ye Faithful'' for sheer dramatic power (Simon Preston on the organ really counts here) or his ``See Amid the Winter's Snow'' for sheer beauty. Of course, ``Ding! Dong! Merrily on High,'' ``Coventry Carol,'' and one of my special favorites, ``Personent Hodie,'' are here in the crisp sound that only this Choir can match. They end with Ralph Vaughan Williams' ``Fantasia on Christmas Carols.'' I want a white Christmas on my desert island!! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good four week deadline!!
7) Part of the point of emphasizing choral music is as Pete says... I want to work on singing learning multiple parts. I must have Handel's Messiah also, but to learn three parts (as I also would want to be doing) I want countertenors to sing along with. I will choose my recording carefully. The one I want is John Eliot Gardiner's reading (Philips R 215049, 1983) who has the light clarity of tone that I prefer. He uses his own Monteverdi Choir and Engish Baroque Soloists on period instruments. Margaret Marshall is soprano soloist, Catherine Robbin is the alto, and Saul Quirke is the boy soprano. Then (for singing along) Charles Brett is the beautiful countertenor, Anthony Rolfe Johnson is the tenor, and Robert Hale is the perfect bass. The choir has 11 women sopranos, and seven men in each of the other three parts. I can take turns being the eighth.
8) Last, but not least, I will cheat and choose two records. I must have BOTH of the bookends to the tragically cut short career of pianist Glenn Gould. Yes, two recordings of the same pieces, the Goldberg Variations of Johann Sebastian Bach, BWV 988 (CBS MS 7096, 1955; CBS IM 37779, 1982). This is the decade anniversary of his death and I can't put it any better than Edward Rothstein of the New York Times: `` `Lord, give us the peace that the earth cannot give.' He didn't go to church much anymore, he added, `but I do repeat that phrase to myself very often - the one about the peace that the earth cannot give - and I find it a great comfort.' It is a phrase that for a decade I have come to associate with Gould, with the ecstasies and idiosyncracies, the subterranean sorrows and pungent energy, the sense of something mysterious and even awe-full, compressed in great music like a coiled spring. In the sounds of his playing - which I listen to in order to remind myself of music's powers and of the unexplainable mysteries of his art - I often hear Gould intone that benediction. Sometimes, I think, I can even hear the sound of its prayers being answered.'' I wouldn't take it along, but if you're a Mozart aficionado, you must have your ears challenged by Gould's recording of Mozart's complete Piano Sonatas. I go back and forth between annoyance and joy, laughing and raging. I won't ruin the moment. Find it. (I should note that this is an attempt to dismiss Mozart as a child, or is it? - one is NEVER sure.) Ah, but back to my point, This is a good time to investigate Gould (as I did in grabbing the Mozart) because the 10th anniversary has Sony Classical rereleasing his complete catalog. There's also putting out VCR tapes that I simply must have! He `made' his own pianos so they sound like no one else's and... I hate to even mention it, since it's such a cliche in Gould discussions, but he hums. Yes, he hums - audibly. But no one would dare use digital technology to filter it out, so when you think you hear something, you do. Though both are composer interpretists of the first order, one can draw a clear line between Furtwängler and Gould on their approach to the recording studio. Wilhelm hated the splice and much preferred performing straight through, a 19th century sort of stylist. Glenn spliced each snippet round and round until he had it just so - the supreme stylist of our century. I can't help but look at Furtwängler as a historical curiosity, but Gould is more alive to me with each hearing of his music. He feels like part of my lifetime. I must have him. I think I would be excited about symphonic music today if, instead of dying ten years ago at fifty, Glenn Gould had gone on to the conducting career he had intended. We have his intended piano output - by his own words these two recordings were his choice as first and last of his career - ah, but the battles and the wars if he had taken on the symphonic tradition! It would have been glorious!! He has not been replaced.
((At least half of these would remain the same today. The first two definitely would change. Numbers three, four, six, and eight definitely would stay in. I'll be thinking about this more as we go.))
``Live for tomorrow... England's as happy as England can be, why cry?'' from ``Can't Be Sure'' by David Gavurin and Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays on their album Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
``God please help me through this day, I can't take it, I just can't take it anymore,'' sung by Shane MacGowan, written by William Reid, and performed by the Jesus and Mary Chain on their latest album: Stoned and Dethroned. For those wondering what gutter the former lead singer of the Pogues had fallen into, here's a partial answer. No one else could sing this with more honesty and feeling that I could imagine. Thanks to the Reid brothers for giving Shane a chance, he's also signed to a contract with ZTT Records. Is there an album?
150 issues in ten years, wow, I can hardly believe it. I thank the many people who dropped me short notes of encouragement. This will turn out to be a pretty special issue. It has also been a difficult issue, since I have bought a house!! There is lots of work to do on it before we move in and moving itself is going to take awhile so I won't actually be changing addresses until next issue. I will be keeping the same telephone number and same five digit zip code, since I'm moving less than a mile.
I'm never very good about commenting on the szine. I do this because I want to do it, for me, and just hope that some other people get at least a little bit out of it. The basic idea of the szine then is to entertain me. It had better do that since I lose quite a bit of money publishing it. For those who haven't been around all that long I thought I would give a little history. This szine started as The Boob Report, a subszine of the ToadFather's szine North Sealth, West George. You see, Terry Tallman wasn't much of a GM, so a group of us decided we would step in and run games for him. Ken Corbin and Dan Stafford joined me with subszines around the same time, it was the Spring of 1984. Early issues of the subszine were partially handwritten and partially computer generated, since North Sealth, West George began as an entirely handlettered szine and by that time also was partly typed and partly handlettered. If you recall my handwriting, you'll understand that the result was a bit of a mess. Terry used to reduce me. Anyway, as he stopped running games, the incentive to keep the szine coming out on time fell off and so did the publication schedule. I started distributing the subszine to more and more people after the North Sealth, West George publication schedule hit zero in the Summer of 1986, including my first trades. Nevertheless, officially I was still a subszine!! The first issue of The Abyssinian Prince appeared in late 1985, I believe. I have somewhat inconsistent records on these things, it's one of those ``I have it somewhere, but who knows which box it's in'' stories. Anyway, it was originally billed as a subsubszine since it was a subszine of a subszine. The Boob Report was entirely game reports by the Boob - me - while The Abyssinian Prince contained the letter column on music and the features. The main excuse for doing this was picking up the dropped mantle of collecting the hobby's official End of Year Music Lists that Scott Hanson was doing in his szine Irksome through the first half of the 1980's. TAP appeared only when I had letters or other material to print, which turned out to be every other issue on average (for a total of 38 through issue 99 of The Boob Report). Back when The Boob Report went through the 40's in issue numbers there was a drastic increase in the number of copies I was sending out as a result of my tenure as a custodian of the US Orphan Service. It was at that point that I got up to the 50-70 range in subbers (though one needs to hesitate to call them that, since it was still a subszine and had no sub fee... you had to be a trader, player, or contributor of letters to get the two publications) that I have maintained ever since. The publication schedule of The Abyssinian Prince began to lag when I hit the 90's of The Boob Report and I decided I wanted to do something to spruce up both of the subszines. It was pretty clear that Terry wasn't going to spring forth again, so I decided to officially go it alone, five years after North Sealth, West George's last complete issue. Hey, I'm patient! I decided what I would do... fold The Boob Report! Instead of a ``real'' TBR 100, all of the mailing list received a ``fake'' that I created myself. Jonas Johnson, among others, were completely fooled! But soon after, the method in my madness was revealed as The Abyssinian Prince picked up the numbering system in a TAP 100 that had the real game results and the new letter column in ONE publication. It also became a szine with sub fees and everything!! Well, in theory, anyway. I've never been very good at collecting sub fees. Throughout this period, I'd been following the development of Internet diplomacy and with the demise of Protocol, Eric Klien's postal szine complement to Electronic Protocol, I realized that I was in the best position to try to bring the two hobbies together. Now I have around 150 subbers over the Internet and around 65 postal subbers, which may be about the widest distribution of any current Diplomacy szine. I hope to move right along on my 16-17 issue schedule to issue #200 in the fall of 1997, at which point I think I will reassess my options. I don't really want to turn into a one page game flyer like Kathy Caruso's Kathy's Korner has become (presently on issue 204) and I probably don't want to do this forever. But, for now, I think this szine will be about what it has been, as nearly everyone who reviews it says, ``not everyone's cup of coffee'' (actually a quote from Pete Birks, but a lot of you have said it). Every time I think I am losing interest something happens to pick it up again. As long as I'm having fun, it keeps going. I will continue to ignore the Poll That Shall Not Be Named and urge anyone else who is a pubber to do so as well. Polls only get in the way of fun. I would rather do poorly on the polls than try to make the szine into something that pleases others and lose interest in it. This is my big problem with media pressure; however, contests are another story...
David Wang (13 September 1994)
Congratulations on 150 issues! (Applause!)
Okay, forget the Hobby History sub((s))zine as previously constituted (Thanks to Jim Burgess, Terry Tallman, Tom Nash, Brad Wilson, and Vince Lutterbie for their input). Instead of focusing on feuds and such, I would like to look at a different aspect. I would like to find out more about the memorable people in our hobby who are no longer with us.
One of the Diplomacy Hobby Awards is the Don Miller Memorial Award for Service to the Hobby. I would appreciate it if someone could tell me about Mr. Miller. I don't know anything about him (besides the Miller Numbers, of course). The fact the hobby saw fit to name an award after Mr. Miller leads me to believe he was a person of some significance. ((Don Miller falls before my time, so all I could do is repeat stories that have been told to me. I'll pass that one on to someone else.)) Likewise, I would like to know more about John Koning of the John Koning Memorial Award for the Outstanding Play of Diplomacy. Since this may be of interest to several of your readers, Jim, I hope you don't mind if we do this here. ((Not at all...))
In addition, could you tell us about Haden Haworth and John Walker, Jim? ((Sure. Haden was a lawyer from Oklahoma who got involved in the hobby in a very small way. I can't even recall how he ended up in my lap, but at the end I think he was playing only in my szine. Haden had personality and a unique style, though he really didn't negotiate often enough to play especially well. He was one of those players who seldom wrote and always used the telephone. We had numerous long conversations about life in small town Oklahoma. His death in a small airplane crash was a personal tragedy for me, though it really didn't affect the wider hobby at all. John Walker was similar in that aspect, except he touched far more of us personally. John's death was as slow and excruciating as Haden's was immediate. John spent about a year fighting cancer until it got him and his courage and determination in reaching out to us (even continuing to publish his szine The Alamo City Times until well into his illness) was an example that still really moves me. Conrad von Metzke was closer to John than I was, so he took over John's games when he folded, but I really enjoyed watching John's little szine grow. I believe he was part of Pete Gaughan's Hobby Small Fry Protection League and he published a teeny-tiny postage stamp sized szine for one issue. When I think of John, I think of his extreme kindness and gentleness as well as his ability to produce the deep belly laughs that make the hobby healthy and fun. At a time when feuding was going on elsewhere in the hobby, John Walker and his corner of the hobby was a bright light.))
I have been curious about Mssrs. Miller and Koning for a while, but the immediate person who inspired this is Fred Hyatt. I had first contact with Fred in December of 1990 when he sent me a copy of his szine, The Home Office. There followed a series of phone calls over the next few months culminating in our meeting in person in October of 1991. Fred became not only my primary Diplomacy advisor (which makes me wonder why I haven't done better; for instance, in ``Garry Trudeau''), but a close friend as well. We were supposed to carpool to AvalonCon last year and to DipCon and AvalonCon this year, but I couldn't make it to either. At least we got to go to a hockey game together (my very first one); I had eighth row tickets to the Dec. 15th Devils-Bruins game last year and I invited Fred and Carol with me (I also asked Doug and Mara Kent, but they couldn't make it). I still can't believe Fred's gone. ((Having been through this before, part of it is the postal nature of the hobby. It really is very difficult to accept and understand that people are gone. I know wakes and memorial services serve that acceptance motive as a primary purpose. It's also difficult because none of us talk or write about these kinds of things very well.)) I'm dedicating the next issue of my szine, Metamorphosis, to Fred. I'm trying to write something appropriate, but I just can't find the right words. I may just end up writing down my memories of Fred. ((As you should... that's the best thing to do.)) At any rate, since I only knew Fred from December 1990, I don't know what he did before then. I understand there was a previous incarnation of The Home Office and that Fred was also the MNC at one point, but I don't know much more than that. I guess what I'm asking is for you to share your memories of Fred with me. ((Yeah, I know, but my memories of Fred are nowhere near as sharp as so many more of you out there. I can look in my records and find that it was between issues #68 and #69 of The Boob Report that Fred and I dropped our trade, when Fred turned the Miller Numbers over to Randy Grigsby in March of 1989. But my memory is much stronger of the New Jersey mafia of great Diplomacy players who played in The Home Office than anything Fred did or said himself. And, although I was dimly aware of Fred's first incarnation, it was only in 1986 when he started The Home Office for the second time that I began interacting with Fred and I never met him in person. Fred and I had virtually no contact in the last five years until I got the Valley Forge game from Paul Kenny. I'm really pleased that Fred and I hooked up again, even though I have so little to add to what others have said. You know, everyone has a niche. Fred's szine with its sharp players and Fred's openness were a good place for people like you to get started and catch the publishing bug. My niche is elsewhere as I talk about a little above. Ultimately, I didn't need Fred's encouragement and he allocated his limited time where it could do the most good. Please, write more about Fred, I'll read it with great interest.)) I've spoken with Melinda Ann Holley, Paul Milewski, Robert Stimmel, Conrad von Metzke, and Richard Weiss, which has helped. There hasn't been a memorial service yet, but maybe this will help say goodbye.
((Well, I heard from Steve Courtemanche that a Wild Turkey (I think I have that right) toast was made to Fred at this Labor Day's Vertigo Games. I guess you didn't go either. Thanks for your letter. Care to go track down Kevin Tighe for me?? That will be a lot of fun if someone can do it.))
((I'm not going to have much music in this issue, which depresses me a bit, since music has been such a major part of the joy that I get from pubbing this szine. So, in a ``once only'' departure, I'm including a partial playlist of music that I played while putting the szine together: I Love Mekons by the Mekons, Feels Like Rain by Buddy Guy, ``Girls and Boys'' (the entire CD single, including the great Rod Stewart cover) by Blur, Mirror Blue by Richard Thompson, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic and Blind by the Sundays, Lifeforms by the Future Sound of London, Good Old Funky Music by the Meters, Stoned and Dethroned by the Jesus and Mary Chain, Davidbyrne by David Byrne, Light's Glittering Morn: A Musical Celebration at the Washington National Cathedral by the combined choirs of the Washington National Cathedral and Grace Cathedral of San Francisco, Gorilla by James Taylor [really! I think it's his best album], Dance All Night by Roomful of Blues, Giant Steps by the Boo Radleys [twice all the way through because I can't help myself from hitting ``play'' again every time I hear ``The White Noise Revisited''], Carl Orff's Carmina Burana performed by the Orchestra and Choir of the Sinfonica de Mineria, Samuel Barber's The Lovers and Prayers of Kierkegaard by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Andrew Schenck [talk about someone else who died that we'll miss!!], and a whole bunch more that I forgot to write down...))
Alex Richardson (undated... June, I think)
Dear Jim, Thanks very much for another enjoyable issue of The Abyssinian Prince. Maybe you could pick up a tape? Yes, of course. ((Well, that didn't exactly work out... see the World DipCon section above.)) In addition to the Cropredy one, would you be interested in a copy of the GP's album Saturday Rolling Around (which is an hour or so of Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell, Dave Pegg, and Dave Mattacks just having fun playing a variety of rock and roll classics)? Once again it's an ``official bootleg'' from Woodworm records, so it sounds OK, and it does have some pretty interesting stuff on it (you might have it already, of course).... ((I might, but I don't. I don't think this stuff gets exported very well. We have to hook up on this again. I'd love to have it, of course.))
Next - could I possibly reprint some of the music reviews from this issue of TAP ((I think he's referring to the ones in 146...)) in the next issue of Obsidian, please? ((Any time, really. You are my great original Brit trade [not counting those late lamented szines like Lokasenna that no longer exist] and have first dibs on Brit rights for reprinting anything you want as far as I'm concerned. I'm glad you're enjoying them.)) I bought a copy of Retreat from Memphis recently and was very impressed - thanks for writing about this band. I particularly liked Sally Timms' voice, so it looks as if I'll just have to look out for the rest of the Mekons' albums now. What was the Drifting Cowgirls' album called again? ((Ummmm, I can't recall just this moment... I'll try to remember to come back to this, but it's a long issue.))
I agree with you about the versatility of the double bass compared to the bass guitar (as mentioned in your Richard Thompson review). When I was the Thompson band in Cambridge, they did ``Ghosts in the Wind'' as an encore and Danny Thompson was getting some good eerie effects just by bowing the strings and using an echo pedal. I liked this particular version of the Richard Thompson Band a great deal, and I hope that they stay together for a while yet. ((Me too!)) As for the man himself, he was in fine form (and voice) as you say. It was a memorable night.... and, er, I think that covers everything for now.
Bob Olsen (9/18/94)
Dear Boob, THIS IS NOT A FORGERY. This is a LETTER. From ME.
I read some of The Boob Report (and it will always be The Boob Report to me) and feel that I should correct some factual errors you made in regards to the Great Feud. ((Oh speak, great and powerful Oracle of Sludge!!)) Obviously, the wounds from that terrible time run very deep, especially in me, since I was the innocent victim. I guess your memory is failing - not surprising, at your age - but as one of the principals involved in this no doubt deplorable incident, I can categorically state that Bill Highfield and Kathy Caruso (or, for that matter, John Caruso or Bruce Linsey) had no part in the Great Feud. Indeed, the ideological struggle between myself and Don Williams was strictly one-on-one, involving as it did the highest principles (mine) in opposition to the lowest (his). ((How could I forget!!?? The campaigns... the glorious victories... the crushing defeats... yet the battle ground on, deeper and deeper into the pit until the blackest Sludge and clearest Wesson Oil had combined into the murkiest conglomeration that could be imagined!!)) The only consolation remaining from this most painful incident is the knowledge that, in the end, I won. I must wonder, however, whether the Great Feud is as much remembered as it should be, when someone such as The Dip Knight can issue so powerful a statement against lying and fibbing, without even mentioning either Don Williams, or, for that matter, Mike Mazzer. ((Indeed! The very nerve!!)) Expect another letter from me in another six years. Unless you'd care to make a trade...?
((Intriguing... do you think I can do it without getting the KK assassination squad out after me?? I barely dodged the bullet this spring and it would have gotten me if your natural incompetence hadn't risen to the occasion!!))
((I'm sure all of that was really confusing! I am still waiting for that six years to expire so that I can get another letter from Sludge! I hope it was at least slightly interesting.))
Late lists are welcome, but this year we are wrapping up the 1997 music lists rather early, since I am being so prompt. I know I haven't been this prompt any time this decade with my list. Mostly that was because it was in many ways the most exciting musical year of the decade for me. My list also feels more ``limited'' to me than usual, especially in stepping outside of what many of you may already have heard. Some of this was me, and some of this was the ``media''. I had decided in late November that Cornershop's new record was going to be VERY near the top of my list for the year and thought I was picking an unknown; ditto with Chumbawamba back in August as we discussed right here in the szine. Then Cornershop ended up near the top of most critics' lists and Chumbawamba ended up near the top of most popular lists.
This list is going to be very ``conversational'', so allow me to list all of the records I will be discussing in no particular order so you can look at them all in one place. I also am more explicit about contact information with specific recording numbers and for Erin McKeown's tape, that only she sells, by her E-Mail address:
Oysterband, Deep Dark Ocean (Cook CD 128)
Kevin Fallon, Poorman's Songbook (Jokers Wild Record Co.)
Cornershop, When I Was Born for the 7th Time (Warner Bros. 9 46576-2)
Cornershop, Woman's Gotta Have It - 1995 - (Warner Bros. 9 46018-2)
Papas Fritas, Helioself (Minty Fresh 22)
Radiohead, OK Computer (Capitol 7243 8 55229 2 5)
Erin McKeown (self produced tape - CD forthcoming - E-Mail at Erin_McKeown of brown.edu)
Ska Island (Island 314-524-392-2)
The Derailers, Reverb Deluxe (Sire 31004-2)
Melissa Ferrick, +1 (WAR 60025-2)
Negativland, DisPepsi (Seeland 017)
Skankin' Pickle, Skafunkrastapunk - 1991 reissue - (Dill 0012)
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Let's Face It (Mercury 314 532 472-2)
Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson, Industry (Rykodisc 1414)
The Sundays, Static and Silence (Geffen 25131)
Chumbawamba, Tubthumper (Republic/Universal 53099)
Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing (Arista 07822-18970-2)
Blur, Blur (Virgin 7243 8 42876 2 7)
Portishead, Portishead (Go! Beat/London 314-539-189-2)
The Dusty Springfield Anthology (Mercury 314 553 501-2)
That's something of a ``top 20'', depending on how you count it. There are also a number of ``honorable mentions'' and various oddities. Be sure to read the comments below before purchasing any of the these, since some of them are a bit weird, even for me. Others just don't quite leap to the top group.
Music for TV Dinners: the '60s (Scamp 9722-2)
Reel Big Fish, Turn the Radio Off (Mojo 53013)
Robyn Hitchcock, Moss Elixir - 1996 - (Warner Bros. 9 46302-2)
The Elevator Drops, People Mover (Time Bomb 70930-43509-2)
Stereolab, Dots and Loops (Elektra 62065-2)
The Amazing Royal Crowns (Monolyth/Soundproof 1311)
Delta Clutch, Hard Luck Machine (Blackberry 301x)
Jonatha Brooke, 10 Cent Wings (MCA 11706)
Tanya Donelly, Lovesongs for Underdogs (Reprise 9 46495-2)
Echo and the Bunnymen, Evergreen (London 422 828 905-2)
Gladhands, La Di Da (Big Deal 9034-2)
Treadmill Trackstar, Only This (Atlantic 83055-2)
Joe Jackson and Friends, Heaven and Hell (Sony Classical 60273)
That's an unlucky extra ``thirteen'', ending fittingly with Joe Jackson's glorious success/failure. Oh yes, and the Mekons take their usual special place as the greatest rock and roll band in the free world with.... well, they had a reissue this year:
The Mekons, Devil's Rats and Piggies - A Special Message from Godzilla - 1980 reissue - (Quarterstick 66)
This record is most notable for including ``Another Set of Teeth'' which is a brilliant Susie Honeyman violin vehicle that previously I'd only heard live!
OK, so that's a lot of music. Much of it you're heard played all over the radio and some of it I can pretty much guarantee you've never heard of. Oh yeah, my concert of the year was a twinbill between Erin McKeown and Jonathan Richman! That concert was so much better than all the others I saw this year that it's the only one I'll describe in detail. I think I'll leave that for last though. Where to begin?
I think I'll start with Chumbawamba and Oysterband. These two groups are similar in that they each have fanatical cult followings, have taken an overtly political (leftist) stance in their music and dealings with the media, and they have been decidedly non-commercial in all of their work. Not only that, but they are ``pals''. They released records in the same week in August and I eagerly awaited both offerings with similar expectations (they would be cult records generating little outside interest, especially in the States). Through my interactions with Tony Dickinson and following the breaking of the record in Britain it became clear that Chumbawamba was due for a bigger break than I would have expected. Their break was so big that there was a serious backlash here in the US, where people began ridiculing Chumbawamba's attempt at rapping as twee British white guys butchering the very concept. I'm sorry, but this was so off it was incredible.
``Tubthumper'' and ``Amnesia'' as singles were both sublime; however, the whole album has a unity of feel and crunch that is epitomized by the overquoted chorus ``I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never going to keep me down.'' Yes, the accent on that (especially in ``knocked'') is clearly foreign but the energy and feel is right, not American urban black, something else. And that's more than OK. Lots of crunch, lots of pop harmonies, I never tired of hearing these two songs on the radio, no matter how much they were overplayed! In many ways, ``Amnesia'' was even better, though it was the second single. Since it starts off with ``Goodbye to the summer'' if it had been the first single it would have fit the season better. Instead, I've been hearing it all winter.
The Sundays ``Summertime'' also was a bit weird as a fall single. Those songs, along with Cornershop's ``Brimful of Asha'', Sarah McLachlan's ``Building A Mystery'', Blur's ``Song 2'', choose any one of a number of Mighty Mighty Bosstones singles, Reel Big Fish's ``Turn the Radio Off'', Radiohead's ``Paranoid Android'', and Dusty Springfield's ``The Look of Love'' (hey, it's the single of the year every year, and especially since it was rereleased this year, it had to make the list...) make the top ten pop singles of the year for me. ``Brimful of Asha'' had to be the best of those - linking to the sixties feel of ``The Look of Love'' - but more on that later. ``Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow...'' Over five full minutes of excruciating beautiful dancing pleasure! Sarah McLachlan this decade has built a career on mid-tempo radio friendly singles like ``Building a Mystery'' that sound great when heard over and over and over again. Even after hearing it hundreds of times last year, I still turn it up on the radio and love to play it at home along with the rest of the great CD (more on that later too).
``Song 2'' makes the list primarily because of the sequence of its ``power it up and take off'' beginning. Similar to the REM song ``Pop Song'', there is absolutely nothing subtle about this song. There also is nothing deep about it! ``It's not my problem!!'' Listen, bounce, and bounce some more!!! I'll discuss the ska singles with the specific ska section below and ``Paranoid Android'' by Radiohead just continued to grow and grow and grow on me. It isn't a ``traditional'' single and it is quite long - about six minutes. It is a dense swirl of sound that rewards many, many listens.
The thing that really surprised me about Tubthumper was how consistently solid it was from top to bottom. I'm finally planning to get a five CD changer that most of you probably find ubiquitous by this time, but it really counts for me to have a CD that I can play straight through. This one was one of the best of the year for that. ``Drip Drip Drip'' continues the string of great singles that lead off the CD and it goes on from there. Chopper, the brilliant cello player and multi-instrumentalist for Oysterband, kicked in with some great support work on ``I Want More'' near the end and it ends with the ``unfunny jokes'' on ``Scapegoat''
Oysterband had a great single too, in ``Sail On By''. Go hear a little bit of it on their Web page at http://www.oysterband.co.uk/ along with Chumbawamba's attempt to help their mates out by remixing ``One Green Hill''. Both of these appear on a CD single that I don't have, but I heard the sample of the remix on the Web page. It does sound like a cross between the two bands. Oysterband are the mentor uncles to the ``power folk'' revival in Britain this decade which I have talked about mostly in terms of the Levellers (who've not been producing much of anything good that I have heard about lately). Oysterband meanwhile steadily has been improving in obscurity to the point where this record finally deserves to be one of the top ones of the year. They've had better singles than ``Sail On By'', sure, but again this is a consistent mature album by a very talented group of British folk influenced rockers. The base of Oysterband always has been the interplay between Alan Prosser's guitar work and Ian Telfer's violins and concertinas as well as their subtle songwriting. The sound, to me, is more Scottish than Irish, although I suspect that is a matter of ear. It definitely doesn't blow you away with volume and power, yet it's damned fine to listen to. Seek out one of the best unknown bands in the world if you like Celtic tinged music, you won't regret it.
More Folky Stuff - Melissa Ferrick and Kevin Fallon
Pete Duxon sent me on the mission to acquire Melissa's record and it turned out to be one of the sweetest searches of the year. +1 is a compiled live record from gigs in LA and Boston. That's a good summation of her style, which is a combination of Boston and Valley folk. It's just Melissa and her guitar and the recording brings forth her excellent stage presence and sense of humor as she tells jokes that actually stick with you. The music also has a bit of black humor with songs like ``Alone'', ``Till You're Dead'', and ``Somebody Help Me''. And as she insists herself, ``Willing to Wait'' is a great `push-pull' single that grabs you and pulls you along.
I generally have liked my folk music in the band style with more interplay. Melissa (and Erin McKeown does this even better) grabs you with just her voice and guitar. To note what doesn't make it with just voice and guitar, the further fractured former Throwing Muses did not make my top list this year. Kristin Hersh has tried so hard to do solo voice and guitar work, but basically it is really boring. Former mate Tanya Donelly (in Lovesongs for Underdogs) does not quite go that far, but she doesn't quite succeed at making a great album either. These records are only for Throwing Muses completists like me.
Continuing the local Providence angles, you may find it really difficult to locate Kevin Fallon's record. If anyone is really taken with this description, I may be able to help arrange some sales, as my wife Charlotte knows Kevin very well. Kevin is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist, also tending to play Celtic tinged folk, although he ranges far beyond that as well. His traditional medleys are stellar, doing ``Cold Frosty Morning/Boating Up the Sandy/Barbara's Fancy'' and Drowsy Maggie/Soldier's Joy''. His own compositions range from the beautiful (``Sweet Memory of You'') to the bouncy (``Me Pongo'') to the silly (``Lanham's Kitties''). And there are three other covers. He is assisted on the tinwhistle on the Celtic tunes by Chris Lussier and on the more poignant songs by local fave Michael Bresler on clarinets and flutes. Wow, this is really just a fine listening record. Now for something grittier...
Erin is really gritty! She also does the most amazing things with her voice and guitar. No one except Richard Thompson (and you KNOW I don't make that comparison lightly) that I've heard fill a room better than Erin with a sense of voice, guitar chords, and backbeat. Erin is not a great singer yet and her raspy style may remain part of her charm. Or, like Ghod, her pure singing may improve with time. There is a full CD coming out this year. I'll let you know about it, watch for it! So far, I think, she only is playing in the DC area where she grew up and here in Providence where she goes to school. I'm kinda amazed that someone that young writes songs that grown up, but more about her at the end where I review her double bill with Jonathan Richman.
As Sarah McLachlan has been building a following the last few years, I haven't been jumping on board. Something even better about ``Building a Mystery" than her previous singles made me buy Surfacing and I haven't regretted it one bit. It still is the only McLachlan CD I own, so perhaps I will take to earlier ones as well if I go back and get them. What I really like about the record is the depth of spiritual feeling and the ``mystery'' that is built into the rest of the songs here. It's an amazing connection between songs. ``I Love You'' is simply that. The tempo, the guitar work, the ethereal voicing just sweeps me away. ``Sweet Surrender'' is the other single from the record. The orgasmic ``sweet surrender'' chorus has just that kind of distinctive pulsing which takes great romantic rock music to another level.
Song after song just makes great music. ``Adia'' has some fifties or sixties style piano key changes that mix together really well. ``Do What You Have To Do'' takes that one more step to a minimalist and just slightly bluesy upright bass/piano duet. Then ``Witness'' picks those two instruments up and adds a few more to start building a fuller sound again, with a crunchy beat and a bit of a country sound using lapsteel and slides. All of this music is still mid-tempo at best and spiritually based. It creates an atmosphere of sound that bears you away. And so it goes until the finale ``Last Dance'' which isn't the brilliant dance cruncher that other songs with that title have been (especially the crown jewel of ``Last Dance'' songs, penned and performed by the incomparable Mekons on the equally incomparably great album Fear and Whiskey). It is poignant and beautiful and haunting though! Great album that never got far from my CD player.
I couldn't resist putting these two records together for a couple of reasons. One can't help quoting Ghod's brilliant description of what Industry is about: ``It wasn't going to be a history of industry from the 1700s to the present day - I don't think that's possible. The nature of a three minute song is that you have to paint little pictures. ((And no one paints little pictures better with their voices than Richard Thompson and Dusty Springfield.)) I think it's impressions of industry and the end of industry... and the transition from industrial to post-industrial... that is hopefully reflected on the album.''
Damn, if it isn't. Recording this primarily with versatile bass player Danny Thompson (no relation) is just perfect. The bass focus sharpens the depth of the sadness and pensive feelings the songs express. Tracks 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 11 are brilliant Ghod songs, while the other five songs are Danny Thompson instrumentals which are REALLY haunting! ``Children of the Dark'' especially, looking at the sadness of child coal mine labor, just will not stop tugging at your heart. I'm sorry, I can't believe how little attention this CD has received.
``Chorale'' and ``New Rhythms'' (two of the instrumentals - highly related to each other) were used as background music for one of the plays at Charlotte's theatre company this year. They are simply the best instrumental pieces of any kind recorded last year that I heard. ``Kitty and Tommy'' tells a whole story in jazzy counterpoints. And the Ghod songs like ``Big Chimney'' are standard fully mature Richard Thompson works. Unemployment is a human, economic, and spiritual difficulty generated by the industrial models. ``Drifting Through The Days'' and ``Lotteryland'' are the two Ghod penned muses on these issues. I do think the view that ``Lotteryland's the place to be'' is just the kind of issue that songs like this need to be written about. And ``Saboteur'' might be the minor keyed edgy song of Richard's career. Wow! Finally, it finishes with ``Last Shift'', which brings an almost Kurt Weill sensibility to a 90's story of the ``end of industrialism''. I love this record.
Dusty Springfield has done a wide range of material. I was only familiar with scattered bits and pieces of it, but I have been enjoying my new exploration with her three CD retrospective set greatly to fill in the gaps. I have long felt that ``The Look of Love'' is one of the top ten singles of the postwar era. Although my favorite version from the Casino Royale soundtrack is NOT included on this set, I already own that one. The one they select here brings out Dusty's slightly bluesy side a bit more, although it still is breathless sex epitomized. I am still exploring and absorbing the breadth and depth of her work and cannot say much more without going on a long song by song description. And there are SEVENTY SEVEN songs here! I may do that at some future point, especially if I refer to this eventually as one of the records of the century to cover the ``pop diva'' movement. In fact, I think the only other thing I will say is to quote from the CD booklet notes on this issue since it really says everything EXCEPT documenting the range of influence, instrumentation, and style that her songs convey: ``Of the five mighty pop divas of the 60's, maybe Dionne Warwick was more polished, and Diana Ross sexier, and Martha Reeves tougher, and Aretha, well, Aretha. But Dusty Springfield, the beehived Brit, was always the smartest, the most literate, the wisest.''
Oh, I don't know, but who cares. Dispepsi is the latest concoction by these Bay Area rebels who take the opportunity to rail at commercialism (following in a very strange way after Ghod's record) by focusing on the colas Coke and Pepsi. ``Their saturation advertising strategies reached the 100% saturation point long ago, yet both brands continue to spend millions every year to make and place their ads and commercials everywhere all the time.... If either one of these soft drink giants care to reap a monumental windfall of unexpected profits by doing absolutely nothing, they can simply begin placing their ads and commercials every other month, rather than every month... Our easily provable contention is that these six interspersed months of no visibility will have no recognizable effect on sales whatsoever.... Of course this economic advantage will not last long before the opposing beverage company institutes a similar advertising policy in a predictably copycat fashion... Finally, the tried and true artistic dictum of ``less is more'' ((via the pen of the architect Mies Van Der Rohe)) will finally come to fruition in corporate awareness for the first time in advertising history.''
Naturally, my economist/experimental research mind grabs onto this really easily. Great idea.... No, it isn't really music, perhaps better dubbed as sound collage. But it's still one of my favorite CD's of the year. Finally, as one of the sources, they use some sampling from Asha Bhosle. Sampling and Asha Bhosle naturally lead us to these next two recordings:
This is buried in the list a bit, but these two records are contenders for being my top two for the year! Portishead really is a stunning record, even better than the last record that I raved over. Beth Gibbons has at least two distinct vocal styles that mix and match to great effect much better on this album. One of those is a haunting, quivering soprano and the other is a distorted, growly industrial scream. She also has another sort of voice, perhaps a third separate voice, that she used especially well on the first record, which has a strange throaty gurgle in character. Parts of ``Over'' illustrate this voice best on this record. In addition, it provides two entirely separate experiences, each great, when you play it loudly and when you play it softly. Most records sound better one way or the other. Jonathan Richman and Richard Thompson (to grab some people entirely different) are two other artists who manage that dichotomy consistently. The production helps in a weird sort of intentional way. To get around the inherent clean digital sound, they inject some fuzz that sounds like vinyl surface noise at certain points. When played softly, you barely notice this, but at high levels it adds to a palpable wall of sound feeling.
``All Mine'' brings all of this together in a single song, built around a ``James Bondish'' anthemic sound. It's a brilliant song. Other songs like ``Undenied'' are nearly purely beautiful, while songs like ``Half Day Closing'' are gritty and cold in the extreme, especially at high volume. I cannot possibly explain the sheer depth of this music in listening to it over and over - at least not in words. Another thing that the Portishead seems to have picked up is some hints of the ``cocktail'' sound which improve things to my ear. J. Cornick's trombone on ``Mourning Air'' is subtle at low volume playings (and still good!) but really takes on some power with high volume play. There also is some judicious sampling for particular purposes instead of haphazardly employed. ``Only You'' has the most delicious sampling, the best ``DJ zipping'', and the absolute best lyrics - hauntingly sung! I think she's singing ``It's only you who can tell me apart'' (although it could be ``tear me apart'' - the lyrics seem to make interesting sense both ways). Beth Gibbons also is the best singer around for twisting a phrase like ``I want to scream'' on the song ``Seven Months.'' If you didn't like the earlier Portishead record, I'd urge to take another chance (if you have an adventurous ear), and if you did, but somehow missed this follow-up, well shame on you if you don't run out and get it!
Strangely enough, as much better as the new Portishead record was and got NO attention for it, the new Stereolab record Dots and Loops was merely great and got a HUGE amount more public interest. Weird. Go seek any of Stereolab's earlier records first, especially Mars Audiac Quintet, which are truly transcending before you go too nuts over the less compelling Dots and Loops. Don't get me wrong, I still love Stereolab and hope they put it back together completely BECAUSE this record could have been so much better.
I bought Cornershop's 1995 disc, Woman's Gotta Have It, and enjoyed fighting my way through an intelligent, difficult, and rewarding effort. If I'd heard it in 1995, it surely would have made one of the top records of that year. For that reason, I mention it here as well as the new record. Then I heard that a new record was coming out and I got really excited about that too. Hearing When I Was Born For the 7th Time was a blow away revelation. ``Brimful of Asha'' was a logical outgrowth of the style of ``Call All Destroyer'' from the earlier record, but as difficult as Woman's Gotta Have It was, this was accessible. Why wasn't I hearing it on the radio?
I approached the end of the year thinking I had a hidden pleasure to announce to you all. Then, this Cornershop CD appeared on virtually every critic's end of the year ``best of'' list. It even made (ugh) Rolling Stone's list! Well, it's still here, but to defend my independent honor, I'm also highly recommending Woman's Gotta Have It two years late.
I finally began hearing ``Brimful of Asha'' as a radio single only AFTER the beginning of the new year, essentially with radio stations being shamed into playing it after it made so many critics' lists. It is by far not the only single on the album. The lead song ``Sleep on the Left Side'' is also pretty damned good and ``Good To Be On The Road Back Home'' has a great male/female duet between Cornershop lead singer Tjinder Singh and Paula Frazer. It doesn't have a radio friendly single sound, but another ace song is ``Candyman''. Jazzman Larry Coryell co-wrote the music drawing from his song ``The Opening'' and it is juxtaposed with a rapping guest vocal from Justin Warfield that is just perfect. The influences on Cornershop are broad and deep. Singh is Indian, of course, and does a lot of ``Indian scratching''. There also is a lot of sitar from Anthony ``Saffs'' Saffery. In an absolutely perfect finish, they cover and weird up ``Norwegian Wood'' (I think Singh sings the words in one of the Indian dialects).
In both Cornershop records, Tjinder tells you in which city he composed the song. I just noticed this when I was writing up this review, so I haven't matched the city/location to the style of the songs. But I think that will be interesting to do. ``Brimful of Asha'' was conceived in the only place in the world it could have been conceived - Berkeley. ``Norwegian Wood'' was adapted in St. Moritz and the rapper ``Candyman'' with Larry Coryell was produced in San Francisco. Woman's Gotta Have It begins and ends with versions of ``Jullandar Shere'' which has as much repetitive power as ``Brimful of Asha'', with less pop oomph and EVEN more jammin' - a total of over sixteen minutes worth! The earlier album also is more self-consciously garage punky. It has a Tjinder Singh relative on guitar who isn't too talented and is replaced by Tjinder himself on When I Was Born.... Tjinder played bass on Woman's Gotta Have It and no one at all is credited with playing bass on the new one (I suspect Tjinder uses the magic of studio technology to do both). Anyway, go out and get both!
Papas Fritas is a trio consisting of female vocalist Shivika Asthana, and supporting cast Tony Goddess and Keith Gendel. They are nowhere near as Indian influenced as Cornershop, but share a sixties backdrop too. ``Hey Hey You Say'' has the sitar and the chanted beat title! Other songs like ``We've Got All Night'' are more traditional rockers. This record definitely isn't in the top half of this top 20, but it is really consistent and spent a lot of time in my CD player this year. My favorite songs are the ones where Shivika takes full control of the vocals, like ``Say Goodbye''. She has one of those soft untrained voices that sounds so wonderful when wrapped around a good driving beat in a pop song. This is an intelligent group of people with solid lyrics too. One of the guys does a lot of lead singing too, like on ``Small Rooms'', which really zips along with a very poppy fast beat. Then other songs trade leads among all three members of the band, like ``Words to Sing'' which is a relentlessly upbeat fun song that reminds you a little bit of They Might Be Giants. ``Live by the Water'' looks at the question of ``city or water'', where to live! Interesting harmonies and the lyrics brings out the lonely feelings that you can acquire living in the city. Really neat song. ``Weight'' plays off the pun between weight and wait with some lyrical derring do! Go find Helioself and treat yourself to some smart pop.
Let's face it, this is a feeling. I can't stand Oasis and I find just about everything they've ever done hopelessly tedious. Blur has done some awful music, but it never bores me. ``M.O.R.'' from the latest Blur, is a perfect example. It is a great song, it is a flawed song, and I can listen to it over and over and over again. There is absolutely nothing deep about Blur so it is all about feeling and emotion. ``Theme from Retro'' has a grabbing farfisa organ built around a repetitive bass/drum beat and echoey vocals. There is a fair amount of variety on here too, but it's all Blur. Blur either grabs you or it doesn't - it grabs me. 'Nuff said.
Come on, admit it, you found ``Summertime'' infectious. The Sundays have been making sweet pop for years with a talented twosome of David Gavurin and Harriet Wheeler, focusing on the vocal smoothness of Ms. Wheeler. This record was a breakthrough of writing, production, and pop feeling that propelled it toward the top of my list for the year. In that test of tests, even as sweet of sweet as ``Summertime'' was, I still can listen to it over and over without tiring of it. The other thing that this record has is consistent power. The softer folk songs like ``Homeward'', ``Folk Song'', ``When I'm Thinking About You'', ``Cry'', and ``Leave This City'' also grab your heartstrings and take you somewhere else when you listen to the album as a whole. This solid consistency of the album was what really stood out to me. It helped me keep the CD in the player for long stretches playing it over and over.
The changes of pace like ``Your Eyes'' also are catchy songs. There is no distortion, weird sampling, or anything like that anywhere on this record. ``Your Eyes'' brings in Martin Green's flute contributions, that's about as radical as the Sundays get. The philosophies in the lyrics tend to be more complicated. ``So Much'' addresses the depth of spiritual questions and how ``much'' we all want answers to questions that cannot be answered definitively. Then like all great albums of this type, it finishes up with the quiet counterpoint to the bouncy beauty of ``Summertime''. ``Monochrome'' takes a nostalgic look the craziness of family, history, and life. A female friend of mine just had a sister commit suicide, leaving three boys behind, and I thought of this song which seems to be talking about unspoken issues between Harriet and her own sister (?). Most of you who wanted to have this record probably already have it, but if you somehow missed hearing ``Summertime'' and have been doubting that anyone can make purely beautiful records in the 90's, go seek this one out.
Although I really like OK Computer, it really took me a long time to get into it fully. Mostly that was because I never got into ``Airbag'' which happens to be the first song on the CD. That is still true today, even after playing the record repeatedly in preparing for this review. Then comes the great single ``Paranoid Android'' followed by another song that I didn't like much - ``Subterranean Homesick Alien''. This caused me no end of consternation and you may be wondering why this record ended up on my best of list at all. Well, stop wondering. Once ``Exit Music (for a film)'' kicks in, the CD grabs you and won't let you go.
``Let Down'' and ``No Surprises'' are just beautiful songs. ``Lucky'' has a little lilt in the guitar on the line ``we are standing on the edge'' that really makes you feel like you're way out there. ``Karma Police'' is a great song with stellar lyrics that speak to me anyway - ``Arrest this man, he talks in maths'', ``This is what you get when you mess with us'' (the chorus), and ``He's like a detuned radio'' - with a relentless moving forward beat. Edgy, off kilter, compelling, maybe I'll finally get the first and third songs and the entire album will be the experience that the rest of it is. If not, it still demands my attention on this list.
I came at the Derailers from a ``Los Lobos'' urban roots mentality; however, when I listen to Reverb Deluxe there's nothing that wouldn't feel right in line at a country station. Yet I, who NEVER listens to country stations, really got into this record. Fourteen great three minute songs and forty-two minutes of music later... Dave Alvin produces brilliantly and kicks in with some extra geetar. Some of the songs are straight country (like the cover ``I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love (Today)'' by Harlan Howard), some are kinda bluesy like ``No One To Talk To But The Blues'', and some are kinda poppy like ``Just One More Time'' and ``Tears In Your Eyes'', and others honky tonk along like ``Ellen''.
There are only a couple of Los Lobos type urban roots songs that I thought I was getting when I bought the CD. ``You Don't Have To Go'' has some great accordian, but doesn't bounce along quite the way it would if Cesar Rojas were doing it. The CD ends up with a great romp, ``Come Back'', which finishes everything off just right. But... they aren't quite done yet - they do a great cover of Prince's ``Raspberry Beret'' from 1985's Around the World In a Day. What a great surprise! This isn't one of the very best of the year, again, but I really enjoyed it and it was the best rootsy CD I bought last year.
Two of my picks, and perhaps the best of the bunch, are actually looks backward. Although I was listening to Richard Weiss about Skankin' Pickle, I never actually picked up one of their discs until this year. Their 1991 record Skafunkrastapunk was re-released this year, if I have that right. It starts off with a kick ass instrumental called ``Road Zombie'' and never stops. Ska Island is a compilation that Island Records did by doing what only they could do. They grabbed the most influential traditional, new, and experienced ska bands in the world and put together a compilation of new material. It is amazing.
Who are the bands on Ska Island, you may ask. Here's the band details: Ernest Ranglin and Laurel Aitken are the Godfathers. Ernest Ranglin was Island's very first ska artist back in 1960, so he HAD to be included. Also, amazingly, the Skatalites were formed in 1962 and a recognizable version of the band is still playing. By virtue of their central place in the genre's history, they merit three songs out of fifteen. Doreen Shaffer does one turn with them that is a stunning emotional dance song called ``Can't You See''. Prince Buster does another performing the Jimmy Cliff classic ``King of Kings''. Then they do another that celebrates their ``space satellite'' roots and the Hale-Bopp comet - ``Magic Star''. The Toasters and Fishbone represent the early 80's formative generation. Jump With Joey, Dan-I, and Hepcat represent the recent 90's LA ska scene. ``Penny Reel'' by Hepcat could be the best song on the CD, if such an insane idea could be suggested from a CD full of best songs. There are also two Japanese ska bands which are absolutely wonderful too. The Determinations and The Ska Flames are thumpin' hot! Finally, Gaz Mayall (son of John!) puts the whole thing together and bats cleanup with his band the Trojans. I have not even begun to explore all of the other records that this set has sent me off to seek, but I will. Wowee!!
What of the pop side of ska that hit the radio waves this year? While Reel Big Fish's ``Turn the Radio Off'' definitely was one of my singles of the year, there is some difficulties with the rest of Reel Big Fish's record. They, of course, never dreamed they would sell as many records as they did, so there is an excuse. Anyway, one of the things most ska bands do is take tempo out to the edge on some of their songs to inspire the audiences to new heights of headbanging. It is very difficult to hold songs together at lightning speed. Reel Big Fish doesn't manage to do it; however, Skankin' Pickle aces their fastest songs like ``It's Not Too Late'' perfectly! Perhaps Reel Big Fish will hang in there and get better, but the contrast is striking.
And then there are the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Their ska pop record clearly stands out as the best one of the genre last year. It sure sold enough copies and made enough popular record of the year lists! Virtually every song on the CD stands alone as a great single. I have a thing for ``Royal Oil'' and ``Let's Face It'' that frame the monster hit ``The Impression That I Get''. Nuff said about this one. I don't have any more to say that hasn't already been written about these guys.
I'm absolutely positive there was more great ska out there from last year that I didn't hear. It was a great year for the genre though and here's to hoping we get more in 1998.
Gladhands is a local North Carolina band. I can't recall right now if that is a band that Michael Lowrey steered me toward, but if he didn't he should have. La Di Da is a wonderfully sweet pop record that combines the best of the Don Dixon/Mitch Easter 80's pop sound with a sort of (dare I suggest it?) Beatlesque sensibility. They also cover Todd Rundgren's ``Forget All About It'', yet there is nothing 70's about anything here. It's definitely a ``little'' record - a very nice one though - with great guitar and piano duets and soaring choruses. Especially check out ``Gore Girls (Gimme More)''.
Keeping with the pop, it wasn't a great record, but Echo and the Bunnymen's comeback with Ian McCulloch was damned good listening. It wasn't quite brilliant enough to springboard through a tough set of CDs at the top, but I thought songs like ``I Want To Be There (When You Come)'' ``Don't Let It Get You Down'' were quite worthy, though none of them come even close to the sublime crunch of ``The Cutter''. In fact, there is a spiritual maturity about this record that is on an entirely different level than anything they've done before. It isn't as much pure fun and at times is even a bit too pushy as a result. Still definitely worth picking up for all Bunnymen fans.
Still staying with the pop, yes, there were loads of great female singers last year. I could slot any number of them in here, but I decided to mention one that you are likely not to have heard of (much as I've previously mentioned people like Mary Karlzen in past years). Jonatha Brooke had a dynamite little song called ``Secrets and Lies'' which you might have heard on the radio. It had a funny little harmony jingle that really grabbed me, so I picked up the album. There isn't a huge amount else here, although the entire record is quite pleasant. If you like discovering these female chantreuses, try this one, she has lots of potential. One element of that breathy, almost Dusty, potential is illustrated on ``He's a Runner'' that was a single of last year NOT on this CD. I have asked the expert, Pete Duxon, for clarification on this (see above).
Robyn Hitchcock also is one of those guys you tend to overlook. This record came out late in 1996, but I didn't come across it until Spring of 1997, so it goes in here. The big difference over previous Hitchcock records is the scope and variety of side musicians that he uses here. Deni Bonet leads off ``She Was Sinister But She Was Happy'' with some shocking violin. If I'd considered it with 1996 records, it surely would have made the top 20. This year, the competition was too tough, but this is a great record. Tough, smart songs, inventive arrangements and Robyn's class.
I've got two local groups to mention this year with solid CD's out. The Amazing Royal Crowns are a stomping, swinging party band from right here in Providence. They use all of the standard tricks: war whoops, chordal progressions, and rolling drum beats. With a little more maturity they will keep making good music into the foreseeable future, so keep an eye out for them (continuing the string of ``strange coincidences'' that have followed the production of this special issue, I sat next to Tom Buckland [the record's producer] on opening night of the latest play that my wife Charlotte was working on since he also does theatre work to pay the bills). ``Do the Devil'' is the album's single, featuring some killer horns and ``some heigh ho, let's go'' exhortations. Delta Clutch is from up in Boston and plays guitar rock with blues and sax/harpsichord/electric piano influences. Actually, their slow songs, like ``Queen of the Hive'' which develop atonal tension are their best efforts. As with the Crowns record, it is somewhat flawed, but well worth some listens.
Another interesting record I came across last year was a debut from Treadmill Trackstar. Part of their sound comes out of the British folk tradition and the rest comes from American southern rock traditions. It doesn't quite work, yet it fascinates at times. The most distinctive choice is to use both cello and bass to drive the undercurrent of the music, with a relatively high voiced lead singer, Angelo Gianni. I'm not sure Angelo, at this point, really helps the band enough - he's a little too whiny - the strength is the cello work. As long time readers know, I am a big fan of longtime rock cellist, Jane Scarpantoni, who has played with all sorts of people, like Joe Jackson, ex-Bongo Richard Barone, (``River to River'' is just such a beautiful Barone/Scarpantoni mixing that this record never achieves) Mitch Easter and others. Here, cello is ably played by Katie Hamilton and some of the cello/guitar duets later on the record are truly beautiful. Other songs are dragged down by the rock input. These sorts of crossovers are a great interest of mine, since both sides can be energized by the interaction. At this point, I believe Treadmill Trackstar needs more work before magic truly occurs, but you might enjoy the first attempt as a window on the future.
Speaking of Joe Jackson and crossovers, he moved further and further away from his Look Sharp! roots with his latest, Heaven and Hell. There are lots of strings here too (nothing with Jane Scarpantoni on this trip, too bad) and lots of variations. In fact, there are too many variations. The record doesn't hold together well at all. ``Right'', which deals with anger is angry all right, but it really does stand apart in a non-complimentary way. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg's violin playing in the prelude is a particular positive hit. In general, the strings playing against Joe's multi-instrumentation is really well done. Joe's haunting vocals are also really effective. The problem is the unity. Joe attempts to explore the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, lust, and gluttony. It would have been better had a done a series of seven separate records that explored each separately. This creates a good deal of the disconnection. There are lots of other talented guests who are effective in what they contribute. The best song overall is ``Angel'' with great conga/bongo backbeats by long time collaborator Sue Hadjopoulos; brilliant singing by Dawn Upshaw (who also appears on ``Tuzla''); and really effective phrasing from Suzanne Vega. In sum, I'm really glad I purchased and listened to the record and look forward to further Jackson experimentation in the future; however, it surely isn't for everyone.
Elevator Drops' latest record, People Mover is their best full album and takes them another level beyond the ``cute pop singles'' to a bit more substance. This is a record that reminds those of us who lived through the electronic dance pop movements of the 80's that some people have kept the genre moving. The mix (like most bands that have stayed in the genre) brings in quite a bit of 60's harmony sensibility, especially on songs like ``Coke and Amphetamines'', which also has some Steve ``Yes'' Howe like guitar chords. They are not immune to Ventures influences either! Anyone who has songs entitled ``The March of the Kraftwerk Replicants'' and ``Tokyo Techno'' just has to be on the right track, don't you think? Anyway, if you don't live, breathe, and die with that history, you likely won't get anything out of this record. But if those touchstones mean something to you, you might find this a cute little record.
Last, but not least, I had to mention Music for TV Dinners: the 60's, which is THE best background music record that I heard which came out last year. This actually is a retrospective and I would rather have selected a new cocktail record from last year in this slot, but nothing came out that was this good. I hope that doesn't mean that cocktail is dying. It seems to me it is fusing itself into other genres rather than remaining a distinct independent style. Syd Dale and Alan Hawkshaw and other giants of the 60's beginnings of muzak are all here. This was a period when that music was really interesting and lots of fun, at least I think it was. The selections, pacing, and balance of the CD are tremendous. If I were you, I'd buy it anyway. Come on, sugar ear candy won't hurt you. Now we finish up with the concert of the year:
Erin McKeown was a perfect opening act for Jonathan Richman. Jonathan has been touring with a minimalist set up for some time now. He tours with just himself, one other instrumentalist (Scot Woodland, mostly drumming), and his own low tech sound system. It is amazing how much power he gets without overwhelming you with volume. It's the music that counts. So, of course, he can't be overwhelmed by his warm up act.
Well, he almost was, as Erin had the crowd really warm. She plays all by herself. She has two or three patterns going on over the guitar strings all at once most of the time. Then, at times, she uses the guitar box to create rhythms. These various patterns remind me of Richard Thompson in his more subdued moments, as she doesn't do the lightning quick runs that he does. There also is a fundamental uniqueness to Erin's style which really grabs me. It's hesitation, it's dueling beats, it's the message. Much of that is generated by her slightly raspy throaty voice. She calls herself a chica (I'm not entirely sure what that means, though I think I have an idea). ``Don't think you know what makes me happy, I don't even know...'' ``It's not the music that you came here to see...''
The tape has six songs, all of which she played, all of which are uniquely brilliant. I can't get over how much I love this tape. The only one that is even remotely poppy is one that goes ``It's not her nature to kiss, it's not her nature to even think of a song like this.'' Yeah, well, it still is the best message song I've heard this year. What's it about, if it isn't obvious? It's about an ``independent girl'' learning what it means to be dependent and how it makes her even more independent! ``Come on, grow old with me!'' It's called ``Something Comes''. It's the last song on the tape, wow! The audience went absolutely stark raving nuts when she played this song. You've got to hear it to believe it!! She has a growing and developing stage patter too. It isn't anywhere near as polished as Melissa Ferrick and it never will be, but I'm still amazed at how well her eyes dart around the room and pull everyone in.
Then, Jonathan Richman came on, with the stripped down ``band'' I referred to above. He enchanted us for nearly two hours, playing mostly from his most recent couple of records. ``Lesbian Bar'' went over great with an audience that Erin had fully prepared, as did ``Pablo Picasso'', ``Arrive Derci'', ``Cupid'' and ``Surrender to Love''. The focus really was on Jonathan's more tender feminine side, while Erin is rough and tough. It was an amazing evening.
Jonathan's last half dozen records or so have all been on Rounder Records and all of them are truly brilliant. Tom Nash, and others, go buy them! Songs like ``You Must Ask the Heart'' and ``To Hide A Little Thought'' are beautiful sentimental songs that connect to the ``Girlfren'' and ``Roadrunner'' side of Jonathan in a weird serpentine path. They are sweet, they swing, and they are gritty - all at the same time. ``Don't ask me about love... I never find love, but I always find love's shadow... for the truth about love, ask him, not me.'' Jonathan's nasal, just ever so slightly out of tune voice (his guitar sometimes has only a passing acquaintance with tuning as well) is perfect for this music. I can't easily imagine anyone covering this music. Jonathan is the only true original left in rock.
Then, using songs like ``Vampire Girl'' and ``Cupid'', he shifts the tempo. He often has said, ``I only sing songs I can sing with feeling''. He also is the best solo party band extant. ``I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar'' gets you bouncing off the walls, ``Pablo Picasso'' makes you laugh still harder while still bouncing off the walls. Then ``That's How I Feel'' and ``Surrender to Love'' bounce you yet still harder off the walls just when you didn't think you had any more bounce left in you. ``That's How I Feel'' also has chordal progressions that won't quit - no words though!! While ``Surrender to Love'' adds on top of that a melting vocal. Then songs like ``Let Her Go Into the Darkness'' pulls you back down into a contemplative mood. Can you play all those songs in one set? Sure, why not?? Jonathan also is totally just ``doing it'' for the fun. He plays two nights in most cities, as he did here in Providence. I only went on one of the nights, but I understand there is very little overlap between the shows as he just comes through and samples from the extensive songbook.
Let me end, as Jonathan does, with a whimper rather than a bang. ``And the soul afraid of dying, never learns to live... When the night has been too lonely and the night has been too long... Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter winter snow, lies the seed that becomes the Rose.''
Marc Gascoigne (Tue, 3 Feb 1998 22:06:50)
Hey Jim, Here are some opinions. As always, cut it back as far as you like. I won't sniff... ((Cut it back in my 200th issue, you have to be kidding!))
* Radiohead - OK Computer [Parlophone]: So this year I finally `got' Radiohead, and just in time, I suspect. The Bends is among the best albums ever made ever, a truly ``perfect" album. This is almost as good and growing ever more intense with its almost daily plays. (I would not be at all surprised if eventually they go too far and fall over into pure unlistenable tricksy-arrangement prog hell, but for now...)
Katell Keineg - Jet [Elektra]: An undying image of Dublin last October, the long cab ride in from the airport, the sky darkening early, the streetlights coming on orange and hazy, this on the driver's tape deck, him enthusing about the last concert, her singing for the memory of Jeff Buckley, `Marietta' and `Mother's Map' unfolding like PJ Harvey fronting Portishead and Led Zeppelin respectively, me feeling so warm and safe and calm and at home.
Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole [Virgin]: Is there any escape from noise? Someone at Pirelli's ad agency has an unutterably tremendous taste in music (second nomination).
Portishead - Portishead [Go Discs]: Almost totally ignored by everyone who got fed up by the ubiquity of their debut, this is far, far better, a darker, wracked concoction of industrial noise and anguished voice. Superb.
Laika - Sounds of the Satellites [Too Pure]: Walking a fine tightrope of drum & bass skitters, deep bass purrs, skipping female vocals, post-rock song styles, this is a sensuous, slinky ingenue of a record. Someone told me they supported Radiohead's US tour, which is tremendous.
Aphrodite - Aphrodite Recordings [Aphrodite Recordings]: People who didn't like it in the first place have been harping on about ``jungle is dead" and other nonsense. How can it be, when it was never a `movement' in the first place? By the time it was defined it was already moving in a hundred different dimensions.
Fatboy Slim - Better Living Through Chemistry [Skint]: Pounding, heart-lifting, stirring dance music, all drum roll builds and sampled Who riffs...
Porter Ricks - Biokinetics [Chain Reaction]: Organic techno, like an aural version of a Steve Erickson novel, all corroded synth atmospheres and rattling sub-bass. Another world for an hour and twenty.
Yo la Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beat As One [Matador]: The Stereolab album was good, but this is grrrreat.
Cornershop - When I Was Born for the 7th Time [Wiiija]: Cute Asian Indian/big beat/indie collision, and they dare you to see the joins. Delighted.
The next 20, albums by: Meat Beat Manifesto / Stereolab Dots & Loops / Labradford / Mark Pistel / Salaryman / Bowery Electric (twice) / Stars of the Lid / Panacea / Mouse on Mars / Nils Petter Molvær / Space Explosion / The KLF / Spiritualized / Porter Ricks / A Reminiscent Drive / Ronnie & Clyde / DJ Shadow / A Small Good Thing / Slim ((Molvær is that Scandinavian jazz trumpeter who was mixing beats and jazz, right? I heard about that record and was going to seek it out, with you mentioning it, I definitely will.))
* Reissues/Compilations Joy Division Heart & Soul [London] Pixies Death to the Pixies [4AD] Lee Perry Arkology [Island] Missing Brazilians Warzone [On-U Sound]
Squarepusher Burning 'n Tree [Warp] Various Return of the DJ vol.2 [Bomb Hip-Hop] Various Brassic Beats vol.2 [Skint] Various Hip Hop Don't Stop vols. 1 & 2 [Solid State] Various Chemical Reaction [Afrodesia] Various Lo Vol. IV: Further Mutations [Lo]
DJ Shadow - ``High Noon'' [Mo'Wax]: Traffic-stopping, coffee-spitting rock and roll techno. So clever you'll spit. So groovy you'll get off that wall and move.
Dreadzone - ``Moving On'' [Virgin]: The happiest record I heard all year, a pile 'em high salad bar of samples and drum loops running at four speeds at once. A joyous thing. ``Oh happinessss" indeed. ((Wow, more than ``Brimful of Asha''?))
The Chemical Brothers - ``The Private Psychedelic Reel'' [Virgin]: Fucks with yourr head like nothing since classic Hawkwind, by way of `Interstellar Overdrive', especially the very Nik Turner flute wibbles; majestic, especially if you like dancing by pretending you're a tree in a high wind.
Radiohead - ``Paranoid Android'' [Parlophone]: Daft six minutes thirty of different themes, a 90s prog revival in a solitary single and some defiantly dirty guitar work to keep the rest of us ensnared.
Cornershop - ``Brimful of Asha'' [Wiiija]: Gleeful rewrite of Velvet Underground glories with sitars and lyrics extolling the delights of movie singers Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and so on. Stupidly great record.
Massive Attack - ``Risingson'' [Wild Bunch]: Only work of the year, a limited edition single that felt like a report from the battlezone amidst all the party tunes.
Natural Born Chillers - ``Rock the Funky Beat'' [East West]: Stupidly great jungle/big beats dance record.
AC Acoustics - ``I Messiah Am Jailer'' [Elemental]: Mostly unknown Scottish guitar-driven stratospheric indie pop, somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Wire, ish. Then they made an album and it was kinda dull, but a great live band.
Indian Rope Man - ``Indian Rope Man'' [Skint]: Bass-heavy dub influenced with a great off-kilter chorus of sampled lines.
Fatboy Slim - ``Everybody Needs a Carnival'' [Skint]: Riotous big beat dance music with a Rio clang laid on top. Wiggle that thing. Anything that makes girls dance is working.
Then singles from: The Chemical Brothers / Underworld / Daft Punk / Primal Scream / Tiger / Labradford / Stars of the Lid / The Orb / dEUS / 2K [The KLF] / Laika / Aphex Twin / Curve / Eels / Mouse on Mars / Alpha / Propellerheads / Squarepusher / Coldcut / Pierre Henry / Trans Am
* LIVE SHOWS
Tricky: Knocks the rest into a lesser league. Tricky and Marianne, three keyboards, bass, drums. Every other song: a delicate trip-hop confection, deep bass, gentle keyboards, XX's tentative voice. Every other song: the riff, pounding duh-duh-duh-DAAHHHH. The keyboards shrieking, pounding, decorated with glass breaks, organ howls, looped feedback. Again, again, again. Tricky, caught in blue light, riding the repetition, pushing, pushing, daring everyone else to stop. It was the 40 minute shamanic spirit-storm of `Vent' that did it for us all, of course. Not seen anyone whirl up such an energy storm for many, many a long year. I don't know, try the Velvet Underground with vocals halfway between Tom Waits and Lee ``Scratch" Perry? Who knows... The albums may well start to suck, but I have no doubt that this live show will live forever.
And that was that. No cultural comment or sociological spin this year. Pop music was corporate; ``difficult" music was everywhere. No trends in this house. Hello's to Charlotte. Have a great 98,
((I'm obviously zipping along with these trying to get them all done and the szine out, but your list is one that I intend to explore more deeply when I get some time. You have been given the ``position of honor'' right after my list on purpose. Thanks, as always.))
Mark Larzelere (Sun, 18 Jan 1998 08:56:01 EST)
Congratulations on making it to 200 issues! That's definitely no small feat.
In my case, I've never followed music closely. I don't listen to new music as much as I used to. Maybe it's me, but I think music was better in the 80s. For last year, the only song that I'd call a ``zapper single that made me jump out of my chair" was ``Walking on the Sun'' by Smash Mouth.
Flap Jack (Sat, 31 Jan 1998 09:46:13 -0500)
Jim-Boob, I said I would write you in my subzine so here I am writing you-instead of doing my subzine, you should be honored ; >
I am interested in Modern Diplomacy as it looks very bizarre. ((Get your bucks in quickly then, or you'll miss this one too!)) I am also pissed I am not in your Colonial game. ((And just who's fault is that??)) I can't seem to get into a game of that except as a standby. Oh well... I assume Kathy will be playing Italy and what kind of a bribe in Jawn's baseball league did you have to offer her to get her to play? ;) ((It was all Williams and I am doing Kathy's bidding, as usual. I'm giving her nothing in Caruso's league though. I'm tanking this year and getting ready for next year. Kathy and I have been moaning over the fact that the Duck couldn't convince Behnen to play in the game. He would have been REALLY fun to beat up. He *might* beat me out this year, but I beat him last year when I was tanking and he was trying.))
I liked your discussion on Louise Woodward and the au pair legislation but you need to use paragraphs. I've decided that what makes your writing look so intimidating-no breaks in the writing. ((See if this issue looks better. I tried to put in more paragraphs than I usually do.))
You know last spring I sat down to try and get into diplomacy on the internet but I still can't figure out how the judges work. I just can't seem to get a mental handle on it in so far as picturing how it works, maybe you could explain please? ((Hmmm, sure, why not. The basic idea is that the judges are set up so that EVERYTHING you do surrounding the game goes through the judge machine, all the negotiation, all the orders, all of the GM announcements, etc. The judge is a UNIX program on a server hooked up to the Internet that is set up to parse basic text out of E-Mail messages. What you are really doing when you send a message to the judge is you are sending it an executable computer program. This program could tell the judge to change your orders on file or it could tell the judge to send an E-mail message to one or more of your fellow players. Everything works off of a ``signon'' message with a password that identifies you to the judge. As for the details, you really need to go to the DipPouch web site and look at all of the files and advice that is set up there. Have I addressed your concerns?))
Music....hmmm....I miss the 80's new wave/technopop era, you know the Eurythmics, OMD, Icehouse, groups like that just aren't around anymore. The closest you can get in the 90s is Squirrel Nut Zippers but it isn't the same. I like today's music but I still miss all those synthesizers. ((Hey, so do I! I loved OMD too. And even the ToadFather liked the Eurythmics.))
Best concert of 1997 was the one Brad took me to at the Academy of Music...the opera about Joan of Arc. It was really interesting with a chorus and odd instruments you don't see very often. I also liked the whole political overtone of the opera-that the chruch was corrupt for persecuting a French nationalism in the form of Joan. The satire was biting, for example, of all the animals, only the donkey would preside over the trial.
How about asking people for comments on how the hobby has changed in the last 13 years for issue 200?
((Well, here is 200, but I'd love to entertain your question for future issues. Comments, anyone? The only person who could come next is one of your partners in crime, with one of the longest letters of the issue:))
Brad Wilson (28 January 1998)
Dear Jim: A run through TAP #199... How about a search for: Steve McLendon, Tony Watson, Boh Sergeant, Richard Kovalchik, and/or John Leeder, all obscure 'zine pubbers in the early 1980's? ((John Leeder can hardly be called obscure, when his szine was called Runestone... and he started the poll of that name. Now, do I **REALLY** want to find him when I helped contribute to the lack of attention that killed that poll?? I have nothing against John Leeder personally of course but.... seriously, though, I will put these names in the hopper. I had to go with Dan Stafford this issue, I just had to.)) I didn't really know any of them, but I remember the names. These guys would be a challenge! Nice to hear from Scott Hanson in #197. I enjoyed that thoroughly.
Most of my old hobby friends I am still in touch with one way or another; many still get VERTIGO (of course if you bought a 10-issue sub in 1992 it'd still be going...). A Canadian player named Roy Selinger would be a guy I'd like to find. He was a real VERTIGO mainstay.
Hmmm, 1997 recordings. I was not terribly pleased with the year's popular music on record. A lot of dross, it seemed to me. I didn't hear one decent hip-hop or rap recording, although people tell me Notorious B.I.G.'s disc, made before he was D.E.A.D., was pretty good. Alternative, to me, has run into a blind alley of blandness. Stadium rock bores me to tears. Blues had a so-so year; of course losing Luther Allison and Junior Wells among others didn't help. Much of my year was spent buying older recordings to fill in gaps in my collection or increasingly emphasizing classical recordings. Some records I know I would like - new Pansy Division, say, and Bjork, Ani DeFranco, the Ornette Coleman-Joachim Kuhn duet, Mem Shannon, Bob Dylan, and Steve Earle - I have not purchased yet. Plus no new discs from usual sure things: Bob Mould, Richard Thompson, Son Seals. ((You missed Industry? You'll really like it, you must seek that one out!)) However, I think I can scrounge up some positives.
Dale Watson, I HATE THESE SONGS (Hightone). As I get older, honky-tonk is a genre I finding myself craving more than ever. Country-music radio makes me sick, but Watson is a good ol' boy with an affection for women, drink and despair. He once wrote a song where he said, ``I'm too country for country radio," and he's right. What you have here is 14 little gems of loneliness, trouble and alcohol sung in a hearty, honest Tennessee twang. Watson is one of the few heirs of Merle Haggard out there. ((Sounds really good, I agree with you about these sorts of things too.))
Moby, ANIMAL RIGHTS (Elektra). Yes it is true that anybody who covers Mission of Burma's awesome ``That's When I Reach for My Revolver" as well as Moby does will make my top 10 list. What you have is tracks of unbearable, angry hardcore intensity coupled with the surrealistically lovely techno-raves that Moby is famous for. Somehow it sticks together. A brilliant if idiosyncratic disc and I suspect that some who like the thudding guitars will not like the synthesizer bliss. I like both. A cool booklet, too, with moby (who's cute in a techno way) pushing human rights and dissecting Pat Robertson.
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, THE COLOR OF LOVE (Verve). Earl has been taking the blues in new direcnons for a while and here lands in B-3 organ territory. 10 of the 11 cuts are blues instrumentals, with Earl's guitar and on two tracks Hank Crawford's alto sax wailing over a funky, rib sauce-thick rhythm section. Gregg Allman's world weary vocals on ``Everyday kinda man" are appropriate and a nice change. Two tracks have a Latin-based feel that recalls Santana at his more subtle. I adore guitar-based instrumentals like this if they are understated - no thousands of look-ma-I-can-play-fast notes assaulting the eardrums - and if the arrangements are uncluttered and funky. This disc is all that and more - filled with earthy colors, rich melodies and that gutwrenching feeling that only the true bluesman have (call it ``soul", maybe). Earl has come up with a rich new synthesis of soul, blues and jazz.
The Bottle Rockets, 24 HOURS A DAY (Atlantic). This quartet plays honky-tonk flavored, country-based rock that purists of either genre would grumble about. I think it's country-rock fusion at its finest, more heartfelt and authentic than Tom Petty's feeble stabs at the concept but louder and more raucous than a Steve Earle, say, and rougher-edged than The Blasters. ((When I'm talking about the Derailers, I'm living in the same stew, I'm going to check these guys out, just as I expect you to check them out.)) But these guys' ballads lack nothing for quality and depth of feeling - try ``Smokin' 100's Alone" here - and they don't bludgeon the listener with riffs for no reason. I'd love to see these guys live!
Various Artists, GENERATIONS I: A PUNK LOOK AT HUMAN RIGHTS (Ark). Not preachy or tendentious, this 18-track compilation has nifty singles from Red Aunts, The John Doe Thing, The Mr. T Experience, Pansy Division, Bad Brains (!), Green Day, Pennywise, and more. The mix is good - not too much of any one specific kind of thing, although it helps to like loud guitar-based power punk - and this fits well in a CD shuffle with less intense music. A good cause benefits and the booklet is excellent.
Joe Lovano, CELEBRATlNG SINATRA (Verve). I debated about putting this one on the list, but... Lovano is our premier tenor sax player today, and here he leads a string-filled big band with a vocalise (wordless) singer (Judy Silvano) in tunes made famous by the Chairman of the Board. Lovano has always taken chances, and this whole disc is a chance, as everyone knows these tunes - ``The Song Is You," ``Chicago," ``I've Got You Under My Skin," etc. - and how they go with Frank singing them. Lovano's disc mostly comes off. The biggest problem I have is that I find Silvano's voice a distraction (she's not on all the tracks) but repeated listening has made it less distracting and more appealing. And I am not sure about the french horn and bassoon on ``All the Way" and two other tracks. I am sure that George Mraz's elegant bass work is perfect for this project. Lovano would be compelling playing scales; here he's taking on the meat of the American popular music tradition and does pretty well. Lovano's especially good at filling out the dark corners in some of these songs. A must for Frank fans, or Lovano's.
Luther Allison, RECKLESS (Alligator). Cancer took Allison from us in September, but he left this searing, white-hot rock-drenched blues power outing for us to enjoy. Allison's strong suit isn't subtlety - those wanting that should look elsewhere, altho there is an acoustic track here and a heartbreaking version of O.V. Wright's ``You're Gonna Make Me Cry". But no one played the sort of soulful urban electric-guitar blues that verges on rock better than Allison, not even Buddy Guy. Allison simply tears the house down on ``You Can Run But You Can't Hide" while ``Drowning at the Bottom" terrifies in its intensity, especially when cranked up (this is a wonderful record to play at a party of rowdy types). Best of all, Allison's soul singing on the church-based ``Just As I Am" serves as a epitaph for a great bluesman and a stellar career that was just taking off when he died. ((Yeah, and I missed picking up this disc last year - a gross error that I fully intend to rectify. ``Just As I Am'' is one of my favorite songs and ``You Can Run But You Can't Hide'' is one of my favorite sayings.))
Hmmm, can only get seven worthy of a writeup. Like I said, lame year.
Worth noticing, if flawed: Yo La Tengo, I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATlNG AS ONE; Green Day, NIMROD; Tyrone Davis, SIMPLY; Stereolab, DOTS AND LOOPS; Ben Folds Five, WHATEVER AND EVER AMEN; Black Grape, STUPID STUPID STUPID; J.J. Johnson, THE BRASS ORCHESTRA; Tommy Flanagan Trio, SEA CHANGES; John Primer, COLD-BLOODED BLUES MAN; Smokey Wilson, THE MAN FROM MARS.
Great year for reissues, however: Rhino's Charles Mingus set; Columbia's Miles Davis-electric era sets; The Blasters' American Music (how the hell was this out of print?); Run-DMC's 12 SINGLES; Rhino's Ray Charles set; all the Parliament-Funkadelic that was out of print; and most of all, Impulse's 4 magical CDs of inspiration, John Coltrane's THE COMPLETE LlVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD, which awes me. ((One of the things that the CD has done is to make all of these reissues economically viable. Things are coming out that I would NEVER have thought to ever see again.))
Singles? I can name one that stood out: Dylan's morbid vamp, ``Till I Fell In Love with You." That's waiting for a bluesman (Billy Branch? Otis Rush? Joe Louis Walker?) to cover it.
Live music was a rare thing for broke old me stuck in a cultural desert, but....the great tenor sax man Von Freeman was memorable at Chicago's Green Mill; we saw the last Thursday night for Chicago tenor legend Lin Halliday at the Deja Vu on Lincoln Avenue, which was sad but treasureable (his version of ``Softly as in a Morning Sunrise'' tops Coltrane's) and I enjoyed The Toasters in Philadelphia. But the best live music came on the seven or eight times I was able to get to Bob and Barbara's Lounge in Philadelphia and hear Nate Wiley and the Crowd Pleasers, a soaked-in-soul trio of tenor sax (Wiley); Hammond B-3 organ (which I can't get enough of) and drums. They are there every Friday and Saturday night, there's no cover, the bar has Yuengling porter on tap and you can get a shot of Jim Beam and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon for $3. Ah, sheer bliss.
The larger question of 13 years worth of tunes is probably worth more time than I can give it. ((It was worth more time and space than I had to contribute to it too. I hope you enjoy looking at your previous thoughts compared to these. I will be revisiting this since I have to put down my thoughts too.)) Let's start out by saying that the CD has made record collecting more expensive than it has to be on the popular side (but not so classically, where you can buy the world's great orchestras in spectacular sound for as little as $6) but at the same time as opened up new vistas, especially for reissues and historical treasures; I love box sets and the CD made that possible. I can even remember the first `pop' (is there a better word for `non-classical'?) record I couldn't find on LP - Billy Joel's Storm Front - and the first CD I purchased - John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
13 years ago, I was a rock-oriented type with an interest in folk, blues, jazz, rap, classical and experimental. Now, I have no primary focus (well, classical, probably). Although jazz and blues have overshadowed the other musics, I still troll record bins in rock, folk, rap, reggae, country, and vocals. A 1985 desert island list would have been heavy on Springsteen, the early-80's New Wave, and electric jazz. Now, God knows. I find the expansion of my musical tastes healthy (except to my wallet) but it does tend to lack focus. On the whole, I'd say 13 years have made a lot more music available to us, through reissues of virtually everything imaginable from the birth of electric recordings (think of all the 45s and 78s now out on CD).
I don't think the quality of music has changed all that much. I may not like some of the current rock and pop, but then I didn't in 1985, either. I am appalled by things such as ``smooth jazz" and ``crossover classical" but I was appalled in 1985 by ``arena rock" and ``synthpop" (though I sort of like the latter now), so what's the difference? I do lament the division of the audience into tinier slivers after slivers, which I had hoped an artist such as Prince could reverse, but, then, through hip-hop and rap, more whites are being influenced by what would have been called ``black music" in 1985 than ever before and I think that's a positive. Jazz, ska, and blues are all more vibrant than in 1985. Folk music is hanging in there, and while mainstream country is sheer dreck, the hillbilly artists keep the flame alive now. Reggae's doing well.
What could be lamented, though I would not, is the decline or disappearance of the ``rock mainstream". In 1985, ``rock" was a easily understood term - not anymore. U2's failure to reach pantheon status, along with Kurt Cobain's suicide, Springsteen's withdrawal from the marketplace, whites' rejection of hip-hop as a whole and the failure of the megabands of LiveAid to stay relevant have once and for all blown apart the rock mainstream that a magazine such as Rolling Stone could follow in the 1970's and 1980's. ((Yes, absolutely, and it was SHOCKING to me to see what Rolling Stone was recommending at the end of last year. I don't think I've had any overlap between my best and their best in decades!)) In 1985 it was still possible to trace rock's family tree all the way back to Elvis and Chuck Berry and Bill Haley; not anymore. Where does Cypress Hill fit? Stereolab? Bjork? In 1985 there were still radio stations playing the whole history of rock; now, there might he one or two in the country where you could hear The Beatles, The Who, Springsteen, ACDC, The Ramones, The Replacements, REM, Nirvana, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones back-to-back. In a sense, American popular culture, while mass-market driven in film and TV, has become driven by a mass of niche markets in popular music. Not many people range too far outside their niche - this is why we have SUCH dreadfully dull, playlist-straitjacketed radio, even in noncommercial radio - but there is not a single artist that sweeps the board in popularity (except one - Frank Sinatra, who somehow appeals to almost every group). There's even whole new niches than in '85 - ambient, house, New Wave, contemporary Christian.
I think what this adds up to is that music fans who wish to find the musics they like may have to look a little harder, both for live performance and records, but once they find a guide to what they like such as a magazine or newspaper they'll find plenty of it. That means those not content with the Spice Girls and Whitney Houston and ``smooth jazz" will have to work a little harder than they did to find their music than in 1985 - especially on radio, where it may be all but impossible - but once they do they will find more of it. For me, I revel in the work and delight in finding a new favorite or discovering one I missed before.
A list that may be instinctive is this, which is all of the artists since 1985 that I have purchased every new release by (excluding one-disc wonders) Bob Mould (in his various bands), Richard Thompson, Public Enemy, Albert Collins (RIP), Paul Westerberg (in his various bands), Son Seals, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Tom Waits, George Clinton, Los Lobos, Prince, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, ((Are they still recording? I haven't bought anything from them lately, but you turned me on to them years ago...)) Bruce Springsteen, Cecil Taylor, Peter Gabriel, Beck, and Ornette Coleman.
Live performance is more problematical. The moralistic Puritans at work in our society have been on the offensive since 1985, and the closing of bars and clubs where music is played has been high on their agenda. Plus the anti-drinking campaigns have cut down on people's nights out, if only through sheer fear. So I am not sure that we have progressed since 1985 in being able to see live music; we've probably held even, except that the middling-touring market (between arenas and clubs) has been virtually wiped out. ((Yeah, it has, hasn't it! The only people I see in that market are the popular female singers like Sarah McLachlan and Ani DeFranco.)) Again, though, the sheer range of what can be heard has probably increased.
The classical side of things since 1985 can be stated simply: an embarrassment of riches on recordings, retrenchment in performance. There are lavish CDs dedicated to music one cannot imagine being recorded in the LP era: modernists such as Feldman, Cage, and Xenakis; expensive operas such as Wagner's Ring, now available in a dozen CD versions; completeness beyond belief, such as over 60 CDs of Johann Strauss Jr.; and obscure composers of all time periods. The advent of budget CDs such as Naxos and 2-for-1s (the big companies' response to budget CDs) means that the music is available inexpensively, and while that used to he limited to the ``standard repertoire" that is not true now: you can buy discs of Lutoslawski, Carter and Wolpe for $5. You can get such landmarks of Western recording as Karajan's 1962 Beethoven cycle, Sir Colin Davis' Haydn ``London" symphonies, Bernstein's Mahler, Heifetz's Prokofiev, Callas' Verdi, and Ormandy's Tchaikovsky for under $10 a disc if not cheaper. Lovers of the odd and obscure can't get enough: all the Mennin symphonies are now available on CD, which was never true before. Want Ives' complete songs? Villa-Lobos' complete piano concertos? Every note Mozart ever wrote? It's all available (with the caveat that you need to live near a ``full-catalog" record store such as Tower; classical selection at mall stores is pitiful). There's a lot of dreadful trendy crossover garbage too but that can be safely ignored. ((It's amazing how gloriously disgusting some of this music can be. Pretty, but vapid.))
But performance has not prospered. Orchestra managers, afraid of offending a dwindling audience, stick to tried (and tired)-and-true repertoire, resulting in dull, hackneyed, ultraconservative programs. The thought that the younger audiences they so desperately seek might be attracted by music of their time is a foreign one outside of San Francisco and (to a certain extent) Chicago and Los Angeles. What's so sad is when they do try something different the crowds flock to the box office (Pierre Boulez's heavy-on-modern music concerts sell out in Chicago and Cleveland, and Ornette Coleman's Skies of America with the New York Philharmonic this July attracted scalpers). Chamber recitals are dwindling and few orchestras tour within the U.S. except to go to New York (where, it should be said, performance has prospered beyond belief). Opera has been doing well, but, again, sticks to conservative programs and does not engage the issues or music of the day.
All this means the recording, not the concert, is becoming the way most classical fans enjoy music. This is dangerous; a live concert can open one's ears to music not appreciated before (Riccardo Muti's Cherubini and Daniel Barenboim's Bruckner did that for me) and there is no recording that can equal the greatest moments in the concert hall (no recording of the Copland 3rd Symphony has thrilled me like Muti's; no Debussy Jeux like Boulez's; no Bruckner 6 like Barenboim's; no Bartok quartets like the Emerson's). I hope classical concerts survive.
I gain a huge amount of pleasure from music, more so than I could ever adequately state. On the whole, I feel fortunate to have experienced the last 13 years in music and look forward, with some trepidation, to the next 13.
Finally, my current Desert Island 10 with a * meaning they have come since 1985:
Non-classical: Uncle Bonsai, A Lonely Grain of Corn; Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights; John Coltrane, Coltrane's Sound; Ornette Coleman*, In All Languages; Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; Rashaan Roland Kirk, The Warner Brothers Recordings; Albert Collins*, Cold Snap; Los Lobos*, Will the Wolf Survive?; Steve Goodman, The Steve Goodman Anthology; Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Magnetic Flip. ((One of those records absolutely makes my list and two others are extremely close contenders. Bet you can guess which ones.))
Classical: Beethoven, complete string quartets (Emerson Quartet); Bach, The Art of the Fugue (Marie-Claire Alain, organ); ((really, you like that recording? I'm going to have to listen to it again. I own it, but haven't listened to it in a while and didn't like it that much - thought it was too unfocused.)) Tchaikovsky. Symphonies 4-6 (Mravinsky/Leningrad P.O.); Ives, Symphony No. 2 (NYPO/Bernstein); Sibelius, Symphony 4 (Berlin Phil./Karajan); Bruckner, Symphony 6 (Barenboim/Berlin P.O.); Carter, complete string quartets Juillard Quartet); Shostakovich, complete string quartets (Fitzwilliam Quartet); any Debussy disc by Boulez; and if a recording existed, Symphony No. 2 by John Barnes Chance, a dazzling masterpiece for symphonic band; since it doesn't, we'll take Copland, Symphony No. 3 (Mata/Dallas Sym) coupled with John Adams' Grand Pianola Music. (What I am leaving off!: no Haydn, no Mozart, no Ravel, no Cage, no Prokofiev, no Gershwin, no Babbitt, no Schoenberg, no Webern, no Sessions, no Villa-Lobos, no Mahler, no Poulenc, no Handel, no Elgar, no Stravinsky, no Vaughan Williams, no Bernstein, no Berg, no Telemann, no Berlioz, no Feldman, no Brahms....)
Some notes on recently acquired classical listenings, briefly: Steve Reich: City Life, Nagoya Marimbas, Proverb (Nonesuch): The marimba piece is bursting with energy, and `Proverb', with the Theatre of Voices intoning a text by Wittgenstein (!) well, the text is one sentence (``How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life") - grows on me. City Life, with `found' sounds and such, I am struggling with still. Gershwin: Rhapsody (jazz band)/Songbook/Who Cares? (adap. Kay), all with Royal PO and Litton: I could dance all night to this stuff. Magical music, esp. `Who Cares', a ballet, I'm told. Litton is just marvelous and he gets the RPO to swing! Levine's Rhapsody is crisper and stronger but Litton isn't far behind. A wonderful disc on Carlton Classics (cheap too). Shostakovich Sym. 11 on Naxos: got this used for $2. OK, but DePriest (on Delos, if still in print) doesn't have anything to worry about. Shaky playing. Copland, Symphonies 1 and 3 with Bernstein/NYPO from 60's: the Organ Symphony hasn't been done better (altho the sound is boxy) and while I enjoy the 3rd here, it's too fast in the finale and too slow in the opening. Sound is ordinary, playing decent. My favorite is still Mata/Dallas on EMI.
Schuman, Symphonies 3, 5, 8 with Bernstein/NYPO, 60's: can't be too fussy here, not much choice. All three are excellent performances, especially the 8th, and this is a treasure. Thank U Sony! Wolpe, Chamber Piece I and II/Yigdal Cantata/Symphony: This is a German production on ``Arte Nova", a label that sells for $4.99 at Tower! This label has stuff you don't see on cheapie labels: Britten Violin Concerto, Carter Concerto for Orchestra, saxophone concerti by Larssen, Ibert and Martin plus this total surprise: Wolpe, the king of serialism, on a cheap disc! I love this stuff. The Symphony is tangled and yet direct; the Cantata, set to Hebrew texts, is very approachable, and the chamber pieces charming. The NDR orchestra is acceptable. What a bargain! Another Arte Nova surprise disc has Chrisnan Tetzlaff playing Artur Schnabel's solo Violin Sonata and Sonata for Violin and Piano. I like this dense, 12-tone-ish stuff (I have a Schnabel symphony and it sounds the same way). It's powerful, unique music. Think Schoenberg merged with Hindemith and Sessions. Stokowski tidbits from 1920's and 1930's on Italian label ``Magic Talent": this smacks of a pirate label but the sound is decent. You get Stoky's Sousa and Foster (!), his oh-so-incorrect ``Pastoral Symphony" of Handel; some Schubert and Tchaikoviky and Strauss. A lot of fun at 6.99. Less successful on the same label is Rachmaninoff conducting the Phila. Orch in his Symphony 3 and Isle of the Dead. Sound is less good than on Stoky disc; oddly the 1929 stuff sounds better than the 1939 material. A Sony Essential Classics disc brought me Szell/Cleveland doing Pictures, Kodaly's Hary Janos and Lt. Kije by Prokofiev. The Pictures by Cleveland was the first classical recording I purchased, so I will always be fond of it. Szell is fine in Kodaly, less so in Prokofiev, a composer I find difficult to really bring off well. This was a gift and I enjoy it; I know the Pictures so well it's like having an old friend visiting. I would have preferred the original coupling, though - Richter playing the piano version! Chabrier piano works on Naxos: pleasant and charming. Fine stuff to relax to. Mahler 7, Abbado/CSO: haven't heard it yet. Avro Part, Fratres et al on Naxos: Wow! A haunting, touching CD. Great bargain, powerful music. This one stays with me after I hear it. ((I was thinking about buying this one... you've cinched it.))
Rouse, Symphony No. 2. Flute Concerto, Phaeton: Houston SO/Eschenbach on Telarc. Go and get this! The Symphony is classic Rouse: hard-driven, biting dissonance yet tuneful: imagine Shostakovich on speed. Phaeton is a fantastically evocative tone poem with glittering brass. Loud and raucous, it would have been perfect for Sir Boom-Boom (Solti). But the real magic here is the Flute Concerto - vaguely based on Celtic/lrish themes and one of the most ravishingly lovely pieces I have ever heard. It's not merely ear candy - it has depth and passion. The third (slow) movement is an elegy to (no pun intended) die for. The outer movements are lilting Irish airs as transformed by Rouse, and the second and fourth movements a stirring march and crazy jig. Carol Wincenc is the superb soloist. This being Telarc, production values and sound are top-rate. Solti/LSO; Elgar 1 and 2 with overtures: this was a gift. The grand theme of the Elgar 1st is softly stirring and gentle which means Solti's not really the man for it, but oddly, his version of the symphony is competitive (Vernon Handley's is the best). Solti's ``Cockaigne" overture pales in color and charm next to Boult's. Solti's ``In the South" is quite effective and he is much more at home with Elgar No. 2, a less elegiac, charming work than No. 1.
Your Mifune tribute was appreciated. I saw Yojimbo at a college film festival and was blown away by the intensity of the acting and the naturalness, the fluidness, of the direction. While I am not overly familiar with Japanese film and Kurosawa, Yojimbo struck me as a masterpiece. And your comment about Mifune's voice brought the sound of it back to me: the only actor I can remember with a more distinctive yet powerful delivery was (you won't like this) John Wayne. ((No, that's fine, I see your point and agree.))
I saw an article somewhere - in the New Criterion (Jan. 1998), actually - that the arts crowd in London, after dumping on the Tories for years, has been treated poorly by the Labor government and is very, very upset. Apparently Thatcher, while cutting subsidies, left the theatres and such alone; the Laborites, being more interested in the arts, are fiddling more. As Truman Capote was fond of quoting, more tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.
On the South: I suspect the urban-suburban south has, much like elsewhere, become homogenized and nationalized, as all such culture has in the U.S. since the 1960's. This would be especially so around Atlanta, Charlotte, Richmond, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, and Nashville, and whole areas of the geographic South, such as northern Virginia, south and central Florida, and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, probably aren't especially ``Southern" any longer. But the rural South, in many areas, would probably be familiar to Flannery O'Connor, Faulkner, and Elvis, with its residential segregation, small-town life, fervent religion, and dedication to tradition. This would, again, be especially true in Mississippi's ``delta" country, southern Alabama and Georgia, most of Arkansas, and western Tennessee.
Many people think, and I might agree, that the southern-influenced areas outside the old Confederacy are in some ways more southern than the ``South". I heard a lot more traditional Southern accents at a county fair in southern Ohio than I did on my last trip to Virginia; ((West Virginia is the other really ironic example of this, since it split from Virginia to stay North in the ``War Between the States''. Right, Melinda??)) the man from southern Illinois I sat next to at a football game was more authentically southern than is (say) Bill Clinton; and the southern counties of Maryland look and feel more ``southern'' than almost anywhere in Florida. Where's country music's new capital? Branson, Missouri. And if a depressing Southern legacy is hateful, intolerant politicians, Oklahoma is more ``southern'' now than Tennessee, Louisiana, or Florida.
I would guess the biggest change in the South since the 1960's would be in the shift from agriculture to industry to services. Plus the interstate highway system and cheap air travel has brought the world to the South and vice versa. ((Yeah, it's amazing with the schedules what the range of business ``day trips'' is for me from Eastern New England. I've done Dallas (hyork, hyork, hyork!), Houston, Chicago, and Omaha (my record) without resorting to supersonic transport and lots of other places are in range.)) One other thing: the South has pro sports now and doesn't feel ``minor league".
That demo game will be something else, but Jim O'Kelley is NOT shark chum. He's darn good! ((I stand by my label until my label collapses. Shark Chum he began, Shark Chum he remains. You might think me in trouble? Have no fear, I have a plan.))
Eric Ozog (Sun, 1 Mar 1998 00:28:54 -0500)
Dear Jim, Upon reading AP and your request for musical comments I couldn't resist responding. ((Well, I hope so, I would have been CRUSHED if you weren't in here.)) The one song in 1997 that has made me jump out of my chair and take notice has to be Loreena McKennitt's ``The Mummer's Dance'' from the Book of Secrets album. When I first heard it on the radio my heart leaped! This Celtic folk-rock song soars and reminds me of a song that would be played at the end of a very sad movie with the credits rolling. Another song which is an equal top favorite of mine for the year but contrasts sharply from McKennitt's is U2's ``Gone from Pop''. This song screams with defiance and is their finest killer-track since ``Until the End of the World'' from Achtung Baby and is the climax of a killer-track trilogy after ``Staring at the Sun'' and ``Last Night on Earth''. It's fine with me if you pile on the distortion and sound effects, guys, as long as you continue solid songwriting as a foundation. And then, to contrast again, the absolute worst song I heard this year is U2's ``Discotheque''. What a way to turn off your fans and kill your sales, by releasing that obnoxious song as the first ``hit" single from your album and dress up as the Village People in the video. Oh please! Fortunately, 9 out of 12 songs are good to great, making Pop a keeper. 1997 was also very memorable concert year for Cathy and I as we saw Steeleye Span in Seattle. We're lucky if we can make one concert every one or two years, so we pick carefully. Steeleye Span was touring for their Time album (released in 1996) and it's been 10 years since they last toured in the U.S. What an awesome show! Everyone in the band except the drummer sang together (5 out of 6), blowing the roof off the place with their gorgeous harmonies. And Time is their strongest album ever since Sails of Silver (1981). The British invasion somewhat returned in 1997 with Radiohead's OK Computer leading the way. This album sounds brand new and fresh, and at the same time it sounds old, with parts of it reminding me of early Genesis. The album is not without its flaws: ``Paranoid Android'' starts off pleasant enough then degenerates into noisy thrash, and ``Fitter Happier'' is just filler. But the rest of the songs more than make up for this; ``Karma Police'' is an instant classic. Radiohead's The Bends album is also worthwhile. Following on the heels of Radiohead is The Verve's Urban Hymns. With the exception of the repetitive sounding lead track ``Bitter Sweet Symphony'' (couldn't you guys even insert a chorus or refrain or something to break up the monotony?) the rest of the album kicks for the most part; ``Space and Time,'' ``Weeping Willow,'' and ``Lucky Man'' are excellent. Lastly is Oasis's Be Here Now, which starts out strong with ``D'You Know what I Mean,'' destroys your ears with ``My Big Mouth,'' then recovers somewhat, but they sound too much like an in-your-face souped-up and electrified Beatles for me.
This was also the year that heralded the return of Ian McCulloch with Echo & the Bunnymen: one of my favorite new wave bands of the `80s is back together again. Yes! Evergreen is as good or better than Ocean Rain (1984), a great comeback album which features Ian's awesome vocals, Will Sergeant's great guitars, and strings from the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Finally, I can't forget New York's Luna, whose fourth album Pup Tent is genius, mellow pop rock with edgy guitars and the goofiest lyrics around: ``Don't waste your time learning Klingon, it ain't no use, escape while you can."
Do you know what the difference between a CD and an Album is? This constantly bugs me when someone, like Conan O'Brien (just the other night, for example) announces that ``So-and-So" has a new CD out. A compact disc, or CD, is merely the medium, like LPs or cassettes, that the songs are duplicated on. On the other hand, an ``album" is a portfolio or collection of songs the artist created (just like a photo album is a collection of photos). So the correct way to refer to a recording artist's new collection of songs is to say ``album," not ``CD." Get it? Saying ``album" is correct and humanizes the artist's work. I know CD is easy to say in this computerized age, but a CD is just the software medium; a piece of plastic with the encoded digitized music. I think people used to say ``album" or ``record" (for recording) not long ago when vinyl LPs were King. ((I see your point, Eric, but you're fighting a losing battle. Good luck with it...))
Going back into time over the last 25 years of rock music for me was interesting. I thought I would write you about it, because what interested me in looking back was your comment on listening to Renaissance and Genesis, which are key pillar bands I listened to the most during the late `70s. If this was intentional to get me to write something, you succeeded. ((Heh, heh, heh.... I said above that I had to have you in here to make it my 200th issue, and I meant it... whatever works.)) I have always liked rock, some of it mainstream (Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, a classic!) but a lot of what I liked at the time didn't get much radio play (Renaissance). I also know my musical taste has evolved and continues to evolve as rock does. But obviously there are people who are stuck in a time slot of the style of music they grew up with, otherwise there wouldn't be moldy-oldie and classic-rock radio stations (oh please, shake the cobwebs out of your head, man). My very first album I bought was Elton John's Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player, paid about $4.49 at Sears or Goldblatt's for it, and played it on my dad's old Zenith console. I was still in grade school at the time, around 1973. I heard the hit single ``Daniel'' on the radio and was hooked on Elton John from the beginning, eagerly awaiting every new album, which always seemed to be released near Christmas. I must have played Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy well over a hundred times, which is my favorite EJ album of all time, and I still play it today. Interestingly, I didn't go backwards to his earlier albums until years later - I preferred the electic not the folksy EJ at the time. But then I rediscovered Madman Across the Water, Tumbleweed Connection, and Empty Sky years later and the songs just blew me away - rural America sounding, but intricate and sophisticated. Briefly I also listened to some Neil Diamond, which began with the Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack that my mom liked, and then his Greatest Hits album. Other pop rock I listened to while in high school was Abba (catchy tunes!), Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt, ELO, The Moody Blues, Steely Dan, and Al Stewart (``Year of the Cat'' got played to death on the radio).
My Mom also liked Simon & Garfunkel (Greatest Hits), John Denver (Poems, Prayers & Promises) and Gordon Lightfoot which rubbed off on me too, prior to my EJ days. Lightfoot's Sundown album is excellent to this day. The first concert I went to was Gordon Lightfoot which my parents took the whole family to.
Then I began to explore other groups that friends of mine introduced me to in high school, beginning with Kansas's Point of Know Return and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. My very first rock concert was in 1979, where I saw Kansas on their Monolith tour with my friend Stan and his sister. I was 18. ((Interesting, my first one was Yes, which permanently had me thinking more Brit about this same type of music and I never took a liking to Kansas.)) Stan and Keith introduced me to Genesis, beginning with the Trick of the Tail album (I remember flying down I-94 at 2 in the morning back to Chicago from one of Paul Rauterberg's Milwaukee cons while listening to Lamb Lies Down on Broadway). To Stan, Keith and I, music was nearly everything and was the glue that held us together. My friends and I were devastated when Genesis broke up. ((Which time.... I was devastated first when Anthony Phillips left the band, but he kept recording so that was OK. Then Peter left, but his first album was one of my favorites of the 1970's, better than any of the Genesis records to my ear except for Trespass - before they started breaking up. It's all perspective, I guess.)) Keith had an incredible record collection of hundreds, if not near a thousand, LPs, spanning at least a decade earlier than when I started collecting, which included Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and Frank Zappa. Tragically, Keith died of cancer when he was only in his mid 20s, about a year after I moved from Chicago to Flagstaff with Cathy. Had he been alive today, I'm sure we'd still be discussing and trading music tapes. Keith and Stan were also into Yes big time, but the group never really grabbed me until the 90125 album, which is very mainstream arena rock admittedly (flick your Bics, man!), but kick-ass. ((Interesting, that's exactly where I LOST them.)) They also liked Rush, who I couldn't stand at that time because of Geddy Lee's screaming: ``We are the priests of the temple of Syrinx. Our great computer fills the hallowed hall." I also listened to Jethro Tull with my friends, starting with Heavy Horses. We also liked the prog-rock band Marillion, and went to one of their concerts together. I still remember saying ``Blimey!" to the lead singer (Fish) and he mouthed F- you back to me. I still keep in touch with Stan.
Probably the other major groups I listened to and loyally bought their albums during high school was Alan Parsons Project, starting with I Robot and Pyramid, and went backwards to their first Tales of Mystery and Imagination. The other band was Heart - I loved the acoustic ``butterfly" side of Dog & Butterfly, playing it many many times, and thought the coolest song was ``Straight on With You.'' Then one day on WXRT (``Chicago's fine rock station") I heard Renaissance's song ``Opening Out'' from the Song for All Seasons album and I was smitten - never had I heard a song so beautiful - I had found my next all time favorite band and was hooked into art rock. ((Yeah, Annie really takes your breath away, even now, doesn't she?)) My sister and I saw Renaissance back in late 1979 on their Azure d'Or tour. ((I saw them on the same tour - fifth row - my only arena rock ``close'' ticket of that era.)) The tickets were only $9.50 apiece (including the Ticketron fee). Then Renaissance tried a sad attempt at new wave (Camera-Camera) and later broke up - I was crushed again. Cathy and I saw ``an acoustic performance with Renaissance" while we were still in Chicago (1985 or 86), and it was a beautiful, but wistful performance as we knew we probably wouldn't see them as a band again. Interestingly, Renaissance has released a new album of songs they played in that concert, several of them new (Songs from Renaissance Days, 1997). ((Wow, I didn't know that. I'll have to seek it out.))
Basically the period in my life just after high school I liked art, progressive and folk rock - with Renaissance, Genesis, Camel and the Strawbs (and of course Elton) mostly was what I listened to. Camel's Snow Goose, Nude, and Stationary Traveller albums are classic progressive rock. I also enjoyed Cat Stevens, playing the Tea for the Tillerman album over and over again. Then I started exploring British folk-rock, primarily Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Fairport's Fotheringay is an achingly beautiful and forlorn piece of work. An Irish folk group that Paul Rauterberg introduced me to was Horslips with the Book of Invasions album. This was the very early `80s. On the American side of folk rock I bought several of Dan Fogelberg's albums, beginning with Netherlands.
Then I got into the New Wave `80s era, beginning with Roxy Music's Flesh + Blood and the Cold War-era Sandinista from The Clash. ((I liked those two a lot too. The latter I even liked better than the ``super'' album London Calling.)) Keith liked the cartoon booklet that came with Sandinista depicting karate-chopping grandmas and G.I. Joe boxing Ivan the Bear in a nuclear showdown. But the Big Four guitar-oriented new wave bands that dominated my turntable to the mid `80s were U2, REM, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Simple Minds. These groups were hot and all about the same time and so fresh-sounding and new. Rebel music. Art rock was dead and time for New Wave to take over. Cathy, Dan Stafford and I saw Echo & the Bunnymen along with Gene Loves Jezebel and New Order in Phoenix one year. Another group which ran a close 5th were The Smiths, whose album Strangeways Here We Come is my favorite. My favorite American guitar band at the time was Dire Straits, who reached their creative peak with Love Over Gold. Then a totally new song surprised me while listening to WXRT at work - Shadowfax's ``Angel's Flight'', a soft, contemporary New Age jazz. ((I'd nearly completely forgotten about that song!)) In the later `80s an Irish traditional group went commercial and became my replacement for Renaissance: Clannad. Clannad hit their peak with the Magical Ring, Macella, and Sirius albums.
I discovered the English folk-blues-rock band Pentangle with the album Open the Door (1985) and they became my replacement for Fairport Convention. I never liked the Blues until I heard Pentangle's acoustic meld of blues and folk. Pentangle has been around as long as Fairport, although their albums were more intermittent, and their last album together was Think of Tomorrow (1991). For a comprehensive listen of the early history of the band, check out the 2 CD compilation Light Flight(1997).
Into the late `80s I first heard The Church's hit on the radio ``Under the Milky Way'' from the Starfish album, which sounds just as fresh today as it did 10 years ago. Unfortunately, after the Gold Afternoon Fix and Priest 3D Aura albums The Church wimped out. Continuing with the guitar angst into this decade I listened quite a bit to Hunters + Collectors, Died Pretty, and the C.S. Angels. I was so happy when I heard Died Pretty's ``Soul's On Fire'' while I was driving along, heralding the release of the Trace album (1993), three years since the Doughboy Hollow album. ((I never bought a Died Pretty album, but I have a couple of singles on a promotional record from their record label somewhere....)) The C.S. Angels had a seven year hiatus between the breakthrough Chasing Shadows (1986) and comeback My Mind's Eye (1993). Both of these groups seem to have disappeared for good. Hunters + Collectors was another `80s guitar band from Australia that knew how to rock with horns. On the folk-pop side of rock there were the Go Betweens, also from Australia, whose album 16 Lovers Lane is a timeless work. Another jangly folk-pop band of note was the short-lived Vancouver, British Columbia group Grapes of Wrath. Cathy and I were lucky to see them (and danced too!) while we were living in Flagstaff, Arizona. Their Treehouse, Now and Again and These Days albums are priceless. Too bad the lead guy (Kevin Kane) bailed, and the band folded. The remaining members formed Ginger, but without Kevin the music just wasn't up to par. Continuing to move through the late `80s I branched into some pop-punk rock - Jim Bob introduced me to the Mekons and Dan Stafford got me into New Model Army. I always have had a love/hate relationship with the Mekons, liking the folksier songs with Sally Timms' vocals and Susie Honeyman's fiddle, and didn't care much for some of Jon Langford's rougher tracks. Their album Rock `N' Roll (1989) is probably their best and runner-up Retreat From Memphis (1994). ((I was listening to those two albums while I was putting this szine together (no one wants to read a ten page playlist for that....) after not playing them for quite awhile. While I must generally disagree with you, I certainly realize what makes these two records more accessible.)) New Model Army was a great but short-lived punk-rock group in the tradition of The Clash, whose best was Thunder and Consolation. Dan also told me about another cool new wave band, House of Love, who had some great songs over their 5 albums, ending with Audience of the Mind in 1992.
Jim-Bob also told me about Game Theory, an electric/acoustic guitar based power-pop group whose peak was 2 Steps from the Middle Ages (1988) and they broke up after only 4 albums. Into the `90s, the lead, Scott Miller, went on to found The Loud Family, a more electrified version of the former - the Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things and Tape of Only Linda albums are good.
I dabbled around with gothic rock - enjoying The Mission U.K. and Siouxsie & the Banshees. Then there was the dark new wave (albeit brief) band Lucy Show, that Bob Olsen told Dan and I about. Two albums only, but great ones (Undone and Mania), with driving guitars, synth, and church bells tolling.
In the alternative rock phase, while in Arizona I learned about The Connells and Toad the Wet Sprocket. The Connells have been around from 1985-96 with six albums, all of them good to excellent, their most recent being Weird Food & Devastation. They never made it into the Big Time but they still kick out the tunes on independent label TVT. Probably the coolest song I ever heard from them is ``Something to Say'' off the Fun & Games album. I first heard Toad the Wet Sprocket's Pale album (1990) in a Flagstaff record store and was hooked by the REMish guitars and vocals. Their peak seems to have been the Dulcinea album in 1994 (coolest jam: ``Woodburning'') as their latest effort, Coil, is quite a let down to me. But maybe they'll come around again.
I never really caught the bug from the ``grunge" rock Seatttle scene. The grunge rock bands that I liked the best are Pearl Jam and the Screaming Trees, but I typically like only about half the songs on any given album. Grunge rock for the most part is too noisy and hard for me. I guess I always liked the pop and folk side of Alt-rock.
Probably the most ingenious blending of country and rock has to be from The Jayhawks. I never cared for country, but was hooked by their Tomorrow the Green Grass album, with its sweet sadness. Unfortunately, they had some internal problems, broke up, then reformed for the half-hearted and coarser Sound of Lies. There were quite a few good albums released in 1996. Out of Canada comes the Tragically Hip, who blew me away with their excellent album Trouble at the Henhouse. I started collecting their albums after hearing their radio hit ``Ahead By a Century.'' Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler formed the new group Love Spit Love, and the second album Trysome Eatone, is as good as the debut. Phish's Billy Breathes is terrific, their first ``mainstream" success and their best and most consistent album ever. R.E.M.'s New Adventures in Hi-Fi achieves near-greatness, after faltering somewhat with Monster. And probably my most favorite album of 1996 has to be Midnight Oil's Breathe, which is close to perfection and their finest yet. Alternative guitar-rock ballads. The Australian group is reaching their creative peak right here and now, and may find Breathe hard to top. What a major contrast to the very first Midnight Oil album I bought (back when I lived in Chicago), thought it sucked, and got rid of it. They have come a long long way.
But my most favorite band of the 1990s is October Project. My brother Kurt sent me a tape of their debut album (1993) and I was amazed that any band like this could still exist. Their second album Falling Farther In (1995) is just as good. Art rock for the 1990s, similar to Renaissance (except Renaissance is orchestral) but it more closely resembles a group called Illusion, who were a spinoff of Renaissance in the late 1970s. (Illusion's keyboardist was John Hawken, who did a stint for a while with the Strawbs). October Project's lead singer, Mary Fahl, sounds close to Illusion's Jane Relf. If you like passionate, spiritual ballads, October Project is for you. Unfortunately, October Project seems to have been another comet band; major label Sony dropped them and the group decided to call it quits. This is a shame, as surely some other label would have picked them up. Not being on a major label didn't stop the Connells from continuing to put out good music. Oh well, who knows what the future will bring. I think great rock music will continue to be made, and there will always be groups who I like, but as always you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. There's a lot of junk out there. With the expense of compact discs today I'm less likely to take a chance on an unknown group then I was when LPs were going for $5-6 on sale. I carefully read reviews and love Tower Records' listening stations, but I only get to Tower about once a year. Discounters like BMG make it easier to try new music - that's how I discovered Grant Lee Buffalo. I am kind of disheartened at the lack of staying power of some rock bands these days, but U2, REM, and the Bunnymen are still around. It seems that if a group isn't an overnight sensation they fold, and the major record companies only seem to be interested in a group that makes an instant million+ seller on their first try or they're out. I just wish I had more time and money to explore what the Independents have to offer. Well, I've probably said too much as musical taste varies widely and some people no doubt are rolling their eyes, but thought you might like one perspective. I had a lot of fun exchanging music with several friends over the years and still do to a lesser extent (mostly with my brother Kurt). Cathy's taste in music most closely parallels my own - when we first met we were amazed at the duplicity in our record collections (she was a big Elton John, Renaissance and Genesis fan too; also Queen, Peter Hammill, and Van Der Graff Generator). That's not the primary reason I married her, of course, but having like tastes in music sure helped.
((Thanks a lot, Eric, from your continuing (reserved) excitement, we go to Paul Rauterberg's view....))
Paul Rauterberg (Fri, 05 Dec 1997 07:43:35 -0600)
Dear Jim: It all started back in 1987 when Milwaukee's commercial free, alternative music station changed to a commercial, blues dominated format. I simply lost touch with what was current. Purchases of CD's by Nirvana, the Boo Radleys, and the Black Crowes were monumental mistakes, resulting in my outright alienation from the music of ``kids these days." Face it gang-grunge sucks and so do its offshoots. I quit my membership in the Columbia House Music Club. When they pursued me with promises of ``12 free CD's" if I'd rejoin, I was hard pressed to find even two products on their list that I was even faintly interested in. I mean, Clapton's acoustic versions of the old favorites...? It's music for the geriatrics among us, okay. New stuff by Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart? SNORE!! And so... I've retreated to my ``library" of faves from the '50's thru mid-80's. Oldies are still goodies for me. Finis.
((Yeah, Paul, I do understand. Sorry for leading you astray at times. It isn't intentional, as I'm sure you know. Let's slip a Brit in here next.))
Tony Dickinson (26/02/98)
Dear Jim, Hi there! Oops... kinda been slack o' late.... Cheers for TAP #'s 195, 196, 197, 198, 199.... oops. Sorry I've not written sooner man, you know how it is. ((Yeah, what will you do with this monstrosity??))
Congrats! #200 must be... well imminent I guess.... looking forward to it. ((I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever appear. As I type this, I am going PAST 100 pages in total, by my estimation....))
Hope you've been keeping well... Chumbawamba... hehehe BIG TIME now baby.... EXCELLENT... glad you liked Tubthumping (heard the lyrics were censored stateside? Bastards)... did you hear about the `Brit Awards'?!? Danbert drenched Prescott!!! Most weird... and their rendition of ``Tubthumper'' was SO .... changed the lyrics to ``new Labour sold out the dockers.... just like they'll sell out the rest of us''. Spot on sentiment.... the boys n' girls did us proud, hehe. (re: striking Liverpool Dockers - you probably don't know about... like half of England, bloody media censorship!)
Oh yeah, also saw 'em live in leeds the other week... just pure bedlam... real arse (???) performance, expected no less! Gonna take a fair bit for something to beat it as best gig of the year I can tell you.
Cheers for the *spit* Christmas cheer (appreciated but I don't celebrate it... being atheist... so I wish you in return belated appropriate seasonal festive wishes!) ((Thanks!))
Hmmm... wow, just kinda clicked RI in your address must be not less than Rhode Island (is it really and island!? Excuse the ignorant Limey)... as in Providence... as in loadsa X-Files locations! ((No problem, the full official name of the state is ``Rhode Island and Providence Plantations'' so I live in the ``plantation'' part. There really is an island though, it's where Newport, Rhode Island is., if you've heard of that, the other main city in the state. There aren't many plantations left around the city where I live these days either. I live on a rock (it sticks up in multiple places in the basement), so I don't think they ever actually farmed right here.))
Deerrrr... if those are REAL inane ramblings excuse me, I'm full of an evil filthy cold bug and probably really SHOULD be in bed... so it goes.
Hope you've been enjoying TAZ of late.... still great fun to produce... but we have the sad news of Life's Rich Pageant defo folding... a damn shame but that's life... ((Really? Wow, that is a shame, especially after I've been lobbying on keeping Louise pubbing.)) TAZ? Regards that, THE SHOW WILL MOST CERTAINLY GO ON... though in what format I dunno as yet! Actually I've had a couple of offers from 'zines eds to re-house me already (and there was me thinking that I'd be the desperate one! Smug? Naw... not really, but the odd massage of the ego is nice) ((One of those perchance from someone named Alex of our mutual acquaintance??)) and I could go solo? Or just finish her off as a flyer service to players only!? Oh I dunno... gotta make a choice I guess. So I don't know really where we (as in a trade?!?) stand!? Any thoughts? .... oops damn long paragraph!
((And I'm trying especially hard to keep those paragraphs down this issue.... where we stand right now is that I send you the issues until you land on your feet. Then, presuming that I get the szine you move to, we can continue the same trading arrangement. If I don't get it, you can make a condition of your ``employment'' the addition of The Abyssinian Prince as a trade, so I can pick up another Brit trader and you can keep getting this. If you go solo, I can be officially your first trader!))
Well I figure that's it for now, so until the next time, all the best and take care,
David Hood (2/1/98)
Jim - OK, what are my chances of getting you down here in May for Dixiecon/WDC? ((Extremely high.))
You could answer Pete Duxon's question more completely if you would actually come to the ``American South''... ((I go there all the time ;-) on travel! I really would prefer if you address the question though, that was my point in raising issues without trying to resolve them beyond my knowledge.))
The most important change here in the past 30 years is economic. The boom in North Carolina over that time period has changed many other parts of society in the South - involving insularity, race, emigration from both other states and other countries, etc. Hickory, for example, is now the home of 3 of the top 5 fiber optics companies in the world. We have one of the largest Laotian/Hmong populations outside of California, if not the largest. ((Providence is in the running there too.... guestimating, we probably have between 10,000 and 30,000 Laotian/Hmong in the city. While I agree with your point, does that make it ``Southern'' any more? Cary, NC reputedly is one of the hotbeds of influx population and I've heard a couple of different C.A.R.Y. abbreviations which are none too complementary about the result.))
We desperately need more workers around here, with unemployment levels essentially at full employment and not rising. This demand is what has brought the immigrants, and it is changing the South in many important ways.
Race is probably still the biggest problem facing the region, though.
Perhaps the best shorthand evidence of economic and/or societal change is the increase in pro sports franchises in the south in the past 20 years. It is really quite extraordinary. ((I think Brad said the same thing, elsewhere in this issue. Interesting, he of course is a sportswriter.))
((Next, let's pick up John Schultz' rather unique perspective on the matter.))
John Schultz (1-21-98)
Hi Jim, Guess I'll make a small comment regarding the American South from personal experience. A few months back home after a tour and a half in Vietnam, I was sitting on the steps in front of the Orlando, Florida Public Library making a few comparisons between my copy of Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984, which I had borrowed from the library to make said comparisons. It happened that my girlfriend of a few days worked at the library and was happy to loan me the book for a couple of hours. I hope you enjoy the irony in this. I was suddenly surrounded by immaculately clean-cut Orlando city police. I was arrested, my Harley was impounded, I spent 37 days at the county farm, the first four days in the infirmary due to the accidental beating I received from those immaculately clean Orlando city police. I was charged with the theft of a library book but the charges were dropped because my girlfriend would not testify against me - bless her heart. I went to get my motorcycle from the impound lot but the charges were over $500.00 and the couple hundred dollars I had in my wallet when I was arrested, along with my watch and two rings, had mysteriously disappeared. ((Oh, John... what can I say, I realize it is an old wound, but it still is a wound...)) It was made clear to me that both Orlando and I would be better off if I didn't stick around. ((Giving you back your cycle would have assisted you in doing this, one would think.)) ``We don't need another hippy 'round here,'' were the words if I recall. So, I hitchhiked back to Louisville, KY, never to see the bike or the girl again. Similar stories are not uncommon at all - over the entire south - be they told from black or white experiences. The sixties and early seventies were wonderful years for ``red-necks'' and ``straights'' in the south. But, if you didn't fit the mold you had best know how to be very - very inconspicuous. Of course, now Orlando has Disney and I wouldn't be shy about going back. And, in general, the south is a much more welcoming place since the late seventies according to my limited experience and what friends tell me. However, there are still many places where I would tread quietly and quickly. Mr. Duxon should enjoy that story - not that England can be proud of its own history regarding treatment of individuals who come from slightly different molds.
Tom Nash (Wed, 14 Jan 1998 22:12:01 -0500)
Boobster, Don't flatter yourself. ``This szine maintains its reputation for having the ugliest layout in Dipdom." Hah! Indeed. In point of fact, TAP is by *far* the prettiest laid out szine that I currently get. Considering the only other one I get is Vertigo though.....
I did not see any notice of Toshiro Mifune's passing in the local St. Simons' press. Not surprising. I doubt any Kurosawa movie has ever played here. We don't even get Woody Allen movies here. And even Jackie Brown isn't playing on the Island, only in the cheap ``black" multiplex in Brunswick. While I adored Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Rashomon, I think you did both director and actor a disservice by leaving out what might be my favorite among their collaborations (after SS).... Throne of Blood. ((Oh yeah, I sort of forgot about that one. I'm not sure if I ever saw that movie all the way through. If I did, it was way back as an undergraduate.)) What a great remake of MacBeth, and Mifune is amazing as a decompensating, paranoid, guilt ridden MacBeth.
I was really surprised to read of Chris Carrier's death. He couldn't have been that old. Chris was at his foaming at the mouth best, or worst, around the time I entered the hobby, when MegaDip was still a subszine, although I have absolutely no recollection in what parent szine. In some ways, he represented what was both the worst, and best, about hobbyists. In terms of the former, he appeared to have no life outside the hobby, could care less about games, glorified nastiness in feuding, and took delight in pouring gasoline on any smoldering fires he could find. In terms of the latter, he was passionate, intense, sometimes quite funny, a decent writer, and not afraid to take unpopular positions or confront assholes like Geryk. In the long run, however, his single handed unwillingness to let the Feud and its entire style of approach to the game and hobby die of natural causes may have had more than a little to do with the current apparently pathetic ``State of the Hobby."
Music? It's damned hard to keep up with anything current when the local radio stations play 50% old Lynyrd Skynyrd, 40% old Led Zeppelin, 8% old Allman Bros., and 2% everything else. I would LOVE to get my hands on a copy of that new (well 1997) Mekons CD. You turned me into a Mekons fanatic you know. ((``Don't be depressed, don't be downhearted; there's a mighty crisis coming; pearls of thunder, pearls of wisdom; Reagan/Thatcher dead and gone; In the steaming rain, my clothes are wet; I'll never rest and I'll never forget.'' (From ``Vengeance'' off of So Good It Hurts which is Eric Ozog's only favorite Mekons' album as I recall). Oooh, your letter made me grab this record and play it, I haven't listened to that in ages. Too much music, too little time.))
Basically, of late, I've been listening to: Mahalia Jackson, the Five Blind Boys, Johnny Shines, the Kronos Quartet, Dharma Bums, the Levellers, Mozart's Violin Concertos, Shamen, David Hudson (djideradoo music), lots of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (I found about 15 Cds of his I hadn't ever seen or heard before in an Indian grocery/video/music store near my parents' house in Rockland County NY last summer), Ali Akbar Khan, Phish, Ghod (RT), Robbie Robertson, B52s, Wagner's Parsifal, Son House, Skip James, Pete Townsend, Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light (an oratorio based on the visions of Joan of Arc), the Reverend Al Green, Ry Cooder, Beck, Swan Silvertones, Robert Hunter, Traffic, Hendrix, the Blue Aeroplanes, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and Mozart's Requiem. Plus I just played homage to what I believe to be the most innovative and creative ``rock" album of all time, by listening to the complete Trout Mask Replica of the inimitable Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. As you may recall, I published about 10 issues of a music zine in a music oriented APA that I named Trout Mask Replica in honor of this unheralded masterpiece that I can get nobody interested in. Barno probably owns it and listens to it. Al Tabor used to take acid and listen to it on 8 track in the wheat fields of North Dakota when he was in high school. But there aren't many of us. ((I can't recall if you guys talking about it convinced me to pick up Trout Mask Replica, but I've owned it for a long, long time. I do like it, especially the fourth side, and you mentioning it made me dig it out again. I have my vinyl records all classified and organized and it took me a long time to find Beefheart as I came to realize that it is the only ``unclassifiable'' record I have. It was sitting all by itself. I like Beefheart best when he sings a cappella in a brilliant delta blues style, like on ``Orange Claw Hammer''. I love the phrase in that song about the ``breast full of worms''! The instrumental parts are stunning too, but they don't grab me as much as the simple voice. And I can listen to it and enjoy it without drugs!))
The other day my 8 year old son, Sam, actually said to me, in response to something I was telling him: ``Been there, done that." I proceeded to excitedly tell him I used to publish a zine of that name, but he wasn't overly impressed. Actually, twice in the last week I have heard people say: ``Been there, done that, got that t-shirt in my closet." I'd never heard that variation before. So I've decided if I ever do another zine of any type it will, of course, have to be named : ``Got that T Shirt in My Closet."
Hey Phil Reynolds.... get well!
I am vaguely thinking of going to DixieCon/Dip Con/World Dipcon. I went the last time it was there. There's about a 40-50% chance we may be moving to Rutherfordton NC in the next few months (my wife is being recruited by a hospital there), which is very near Hickory, so I may as well start kissing up to David Hood now. Actually, I'd be quite happy to be a half hour drive from Asheville... some real live culture AT LAST! After 8 years of SSI's gorgeous beaches and marshes, and a local culture that consists of playing golf and getting drunk, and where yoga classes get shut down by the local fundamentalists for being Satanic.
((Wow, thanks for the letter, Tom. We miss getting more of your input. Sure, why don't you start a new szine.... I held this next one for a couple of reasons to my 200th issue. I'm proud to have John as a subber!))
John Schultz (11-19-97)
Hi Jim, Haven't written you a note in a very long time. I had a few extra moments so thought I'd spend them jotting you a few comments.
I wish I had a music list for you but as I've scanned the radio waves over the past couple of years the only descriptive I can come up with is - pathetic! Maybe there is great stuff out there somewhere - but I never get to hear it. So, I've retreated into the past. Saturday nights from 9:00 to midnight I listen to a little thing called the Midnight Special on 98.7. It's filled with all sorts of quirky little folksy tunes I enjoy immensely. But the meat of the program is truly classic folk music from the 30's forward. Great stuff. Weeknights it's 98.7 Chicago again and my dose of Bach, Handel, etc. I wish they didn't have to stick in the occasional opera though. It always manages to transport me out of my revelry. All other times I listen to 94.7 Chicago. It's a classic rock station which doesn't play ``Stairway to Heaven'' every half-hour. I love it. I've heard groups I haven't heard for years. Stuff by the Electric Prunes, Vanilla Fudge, Zombies, and the Yardbirds - just to name a few - plus, lots of Dylan, Seeger, the Boss. Old rock and roll heaven.
Attempting no segue, I still would like Daf's address. I sent all my important address home months ago when I thought I was on the verge of moving. They are all buried in a box at my sister's house, not to be retrieved until I'm a free man. I made no copy. I've been rebuilding my list through (s)zines, etc., but I've not found Daf's. And while we're speaking on addresses I've bought a post office box and paid it up for ten years. The address is:
John Schultz, POB 21151, Louisville, KY 40221
This isn't an address change - just a defense against becoming lost to those who actually care if I get lost or not. There is a new attitude in the prison system regarding prisoners' rights. We have very little recourse anymore. It's almost impossible to file suit regarding personal property and the powers that be are well aware they are immune to any legal repercussions. It's a very likely possibility that all my personal papers will be ``lost in transit'' when I am moved - including an address list. It's just as likely that my mail will not be forwarded. So, if I'm not heard from for a few months, a letter to the above POB will rectify that situation. ((So everyone remembers, I'm putting this letter in my 200th issue. Now I'll be able to locate it if I need it.))
Gotta go! Keep publishing. I'll see you on the computer screen when the time comes.
Rich Goranson (Tue, 25 Nov 1997 12:55:26 -0500 (EST)) Jim-Bob: You wanted a letter on 1997 in music. Since for me 1997 was just a continuation of trends that started about 1991 or so, I thought I would give a rundown on the most important records of the decade (to me) and where I think music is headed. My top ten records for the 1990's are:
#1 - Riverdance (Bill Whelan)
#2 - Secret People (Capercaillie)
#3 - Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
#4 - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (Sarah McLaughlin)
#5 - The Half Tail (Wolfstone)
#6 - The Back Door (Cherish the Ladies)
#7 - Invocation (Anuna)
#8 - Get Out (Capercaillie)
#9 - Black Moon (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
#10 - The Red Shoes (Kate Bush)
Record label of the decade: Green Linnet ((Then you MUST have their label retrospective album from last year that made my tops of the year list, right? [obviously, I typed this before reading the rest of the letter...]))
I've been told by a friend of mine that Love Among the Ruins (10,000 Maniacs) should be on this list, but I haven't heard it yet. Coming from a hardcore Natalie Merchant fan, his recommendation is rather startling for the first Maniacs album with Mary Ramsey. An odd story appeared several months ago in the Buffalo News about a Maniacs concert in Dallas over the summer. The crowd was unusually unruly and Ramsey was continually berated onstage, basically for not being Natalie Merchant. Apparently she was visibly rattled by the crowd. A local ``reporter" named Tony Violanti, who can always be counted on to give his paper a bad name and who routinely slams certain local radio stations and groups (primarily 70's and older) said ``If she can't take the heat she should head back to Slee Hall (SUNY at Buffalo's Music Hall)". Just goes to show you the level of appreciation that our only paper has for WNY's only significant rock band. ((Yeah, although I will guarantee you that some of this was Dallas. When I lived there, which admittedly is getting longer and longer ago, I thought the audiences were tremendously bad. Sometimes they went to the extreme of standing ovations and wild cheering for inferior performances by performers who were ``famous''. It is a place where fame counts for a lot. Thus, if Natalie were there having a bad night, they would have cheered her with loud whistling and over exuberant clapping. My strongest recollection of this was the Beaux Arts Trio playing Rachmaninoff - not having their best night - which is admittedly a classical example, but the behavior applied to rock too. Talking Heads and Joe Jackson concerts I went to there were filled with eastern transplants, which didn't behave like that. BUT, when Dallas audiences didn't get what they thought they deserved, they also could be REALLY brutal. It's not a place where anyone wanted to be a stand-in. How they treated Mary Ramsey does not surprise me a bit. From what I've heard of the record, I would agree that it is very much worth picking up, though I don't own it either.))
As you can see from this list, I believe the most important development in popular music this decade is the rediscovery of Celtic music. I think many people have gotten a little tired of simplistic, popular music and have been looking for something a little more complicated and intriguing. Many of the modern Celtic groups fill the bill wonderfully. I feel a bit vindicated by this. I didn't start out a Celtic music fan but I was floored by the high level of musicianship of many of the groups.
The top ten one-by-one:
Riverdance: Despite what choreographer Michael Flatley wants you to believe, Bill Whelan is the true star of Riverdance. It is the music that makes the show work and the former Planxty star has come up with a magnificent score. This is what started the Celtic music ball rolling.
Secret People: Capercaillie's best album. The lead singer of the group is Karen Matheson who most of you saw singing that horribly sad song at the campfire scene in Rob Roy. Sean Connery has said that she has a voice touched by God and I'm inclined to agree with him. ``Hi Rim Bo" is one of the best uptempo numbers ever.
Live at the Royal Albert Hall: Normally I'm not terribly fond of live albums (even though two made the list) but this one is very special. The rock group who wrote the book on technical expertise put together a stunning collection of old and new. Best work is Emerson's piano solo ``Creole Dance", taken from Ginastera's ``Dancus Creolus" and a spirited performance of ``Pirates". This was the last album before Emerson's surgery.
Fumbling Towards Ecstacy: I chose this album because it is the overall the best of her work but her best songs are on her earlier records (``Mercy" from Solace and ``VOX", ``A Winter's Day" and ``Out in the Shadows" from Touch). Another fine Canadian product.
The Half Tail: Where Celtic music is concerned I usually prefer the female voice. This group is one of the exceptions. Wolfstone's vocals are powerful and the level of musicianship is, of course, excellent. A much harder rock feel than any other celtic group.
The Back Door: Cherish the Ladies is an odd group. They're the only group that I know of that has a dancer. That and their being from the Bronx gives their music a unique quality. They can go from bright and cheery to sad and wistful and make you feel it.
Invocation: Anuna is a group that scares me sometimes. Their a capella harmonies are something that really should not exist on this earth. When you listen to them you feel that you're in heaven, or at least purgatory.
Get Out: The second live album on the list. Capercaillie very rarely does live performances so this album took several years to compile. An older version of ``Waiting for the Wheel to Turn" (with a completely different feel than the one released on Delirium) and ``Outlaws" are the best.
Black Moon: The real comeback album after the horrible To the Power of Three in '86. Many good bits, particularly ``Romeo and Juilet" and ``Going Home". Even the Lake stuff is good; infinitely better than his work on In the Hot Seat.
The Red Shoes: The audio version of the short film The Line, The Cross and The Curve. Not one of Kate's better efforts but still a very powerful record.
Green Linnet is the label that produces most of the quality Celtic music in the US, primarily now that Wyndham Hill has moved to mostly soft jazz and new age. If you want a good inexpensive introduction to Celtic music, order one of their compilation CD's for $10 (I believe someone a few issues ago recommended the 20 Year anniversary disc). ((That would have been yours truly, natch!)) For the web connected, their site is http://www.greenlinnet.com (last I checked). For the non web-connected, write for the catalog at 43 Beaver Brook Rd., Danbury, CT, 06810. I don't even get a finders fee if you order something (and I'm not in any connected with them).
Rich Goranson (Tue, 25 Nov 1997 16:40:03 -0500 (EST))
Boob: I never really finished up the last letter. Where do I think music is going?? It's hard to say. I think that we will still see ``music" produced for its visual effect (aka the Spice Girls) but perhaps a llittle less so than we have seen in recent years. The recent trend on musical content and meaning over visual presentation will still continue. 1997 was the year of the female artist; McLaughlin, Crow, Morrisette, Jewel, et. al. A year where bombastics like Lollapalooza and moshing were out and empathy was in. I think this is primarily because this particular group of female artists are just plain better than what we have seen in a very long time. I think that the appeal of Celtic music will last after Riverdance finally dies in New York and on tour but not generally so. What I see happening is that much music will become pigeonholed because of the satellite TV explosion. Specialized music television stations will become the preferred method of listening to new music at home. With so many specialized options available now (and soon to be available) many listeners will focus on one sort of music to the exclusion of all else. Stations like MTV and VH1 will become archaic dinosaurs because they are too generalized. It seems odd that with such a wide variety of choices available that we will end up restricting ourselves more than expanding them, but this is human nature. We'll find the music station that is just right for US and we'll keep it. Its sad to say, but the vast majority of people are afraid to expand their horizons and once they find JUST what they want, they're not going to change. ((I don't completely disagree with you; however, we still have to discover what the impact of computers and Internet connections become. As one who JUST got a sound card and speakers attached to my computer for the first time (you see some hints of this in this issue), I see the potential if you can get throughput up by about 100 times, then all music would come over the Internet.))
Another thing that I see happening is a classical music revival. Many orchestras are trying to lose their stuffy image in order to sell tickets (like jeans and beer nights) and this has generally been successful. A new group of flashy performers in the classical field would help, like Yo-Yo Ma and Wynton, Branford (and Chicken) Marsalis did in the '80s. Another thing that is helping is popular musicians writing classical works. Now that Paul McCartney has written a successful classical work perhaps some people will remember Zappa and Emerson. ((Oh, maybe, maybe, maybe.... I'm sorry, but McCartney's classical efforts have been total junk. And at least Joe Jackson's efforts have been glorious failures. Zappa's range runs from producing Captain Beefheart to the classical ventures you discuss and I agree that renewed attention to him would be worthwhile. Emerson I have very mixed feelings about. I'll think about that.))
Every few years or so a new category of music appears. I have no idea what the next one will be. I can't even venture a guess.
What I do fear in the music industry is a repeat of the '70s payola scams, especially with many radio stations in every market owned by a small group of companies. This has already happened with a legal loophole involving the pay-per-play cable station ``The Box". It seems that record companies were paying people to request their videos. They would get seen more often and it would get into many people's heads that they were actually good. The effect is rather limited, however, because the requests are handled by local affiliates, so if a video was requested in Buffalo, it wouldn't be seen in Rochester or Cleveland. In the ``big three" (NYC, LA, Chicago) different videos were often seen in different neighborhoods. But more rigid control over young talent (and over older talent with financial problems) by the record companies will be rule. Only once an artist makes the kind of money where they can control their own destiny (like Mariah Carey just did, talk about being married to your company!) will they let up. And if they are truly great talents, they will thrive. I doubt that we will see much more of Carey in 1998. I'm still boggled why we still see Whitney Houston at all. She still sings like she's on Star Search.
I said in the last letter that I felt vindicated and I never explained myself. I have always believed that substance and musicianship was more important than flash and promotion and the resurgence of Celtic music in recent years have proved me right (finally). I do hope this trend continues. I would hate to see modern music turn into a bunch of Milli Vanilli or Courtney Love clones.
Quote of the week: ``It's always an honor when someone else performs your music. Even if they do it badly." - Stevie Nicks refering to Hole's remake of ``Gold Dust Woman"
((Who cares? Maybe you just have too many quarterbacks... Anyway, Randy Ellis is up next with a submission that he copied from somewhere, but in the interest of getting everyone's lists into this issue, it isn't a music list, but it is a good interlude. It also forms some good rules for Diplomacy, which of course is the most human of games.))
Randy Ellis (1-27-98)
1. You will receive a body.
- You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around. ((No player may play more than two powers in the same game...))
2. You will learn lessons.
- You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid. ((Yeah, but stupid dominates.))
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
- Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The ``failed'' experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately ``works.'' ((At most one player out of seven wins. Draws are for wimps.))
4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned.
- A lesson will be repeated to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson. ((And you might even finally get to win a game.))
5. Learning lessons does not end.
- There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned. ((``It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.''))
6. ``There'' is no better than ``here.''
- When your ``there'' has become a ``here,'' you will simply obtain another ``there'' that will, again, look better than ``here.'' ((Duh!))
7. Others are merely mirrors of you.
- You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself. ((My, think about how that process applied to allies and enemies would look! No, that IS how it looks.))
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
- You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours. ((Is there any doubt why Diplomacy is THE game?))
9. Your answers lie inside you.
- The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust. ((Is that all you have to do? Makes it sound simple!))
10. You will forget all this.
Ian Moore (27-1-98)
Dear Jim, Yes, it's me again. My yearly letter. Actually, I don't think I even sent you a letter last year. I started writing one, but then I lost it. Because I am a Bad Person. ((Sure, sure, sure, I suppose your dog ate it!)) I'm not going to stop this one until I get it finished and in an envelope. Oh yes. ((Seemingly so! Here it is on my desk for my to type in!!))
I'm writing as your President is facing the prospect of having to resign for having sex. This is quite funny. ((Insane, actually!)) One of the impressions Irish people have of Americans is that you're all at it like bunnies from the moment you turn fourteen (actually we think this of most people, it's called begrudgery). So it's funny that you're going to laugh at your President until he resigns or something, just for being as cheeky a monkey as the rest of you are. And don't talk to me about telling someone to lie being the big issue here, if I was in Clinton's position I'd tell someone to lie because I know what fun people would have if they knew The Truth.
((You won't hear that excuse from me. As someone who is outside Washington, but spends lots and lots of time there, this is part of the ``unreality'' of DC. Everything is politics and there is no ``real production'' going on. Sex then becomes one of the few real commodities in production. I believe pretty strongly that there are certain things the government has no right to ask of us and when they ask it can't really be called lying. Americans do seem to like these Catch 22's, which this certainly is.)) I wonder if America is in the grip of a neo-Victorian hypocrisy on matters sexual. ((Nope, it's more about politics and the way Americans always have been about sex.))
You know, we do things differently here. ((No kidding!)) Some years back we had a Taoiseach (Prime Minister, Premier, El Lefe, whatever) who was a well known shagabout. But reporters didn't ask him impertinent questions about his lovelife, because if they had then he would have had them killed. ((As you probably know, at least half of the Presidents in this century were well known to have had adulterous relationships, many of them with ``employees'' where some sexual harassment/coercion might have been possible. We all wish they would get back to real issues, but there aren't any important ones. Press boredom is a significant factor here.))
Oh well. Music then we shall go on to, for I am Mr. Music. ((And so you are!)) I'm always interested in the concept of The Song of the Year, you know, the song that provides the soundtrack to what the year was all about. 1996's was ``Firestarter'' by The Prodigy, for instance. 1997 I reckon saw a slugfest between The Verve's ``Bittersweet Symphony'' and Chumbawamba's ``Tubthumping''. ((``Bittersweet Symphony'' actually is taking another early year trip back up the charts and I hear it now more than ever, while I seldom hear ``Tubthumping'' any more (except as promo music, wow!). Could that be saying something about longevity. I left The Verve off my list because I thought I would be accused of totally selling out. It is a beautiful song. Still, ``Brimful of Asha'' is better than both.))
``Tubthumping'' is a great song, unironically about the joys of getting tanked up on booze. In today's puritanical age this is a message we would all do well to hear. Have you noticed how in films and TV programmes they establish that a character is weak and morally dubious by showing them to be fond of a drink? ((Or even more commonly by smoking.))
Still, The Verve's ``Bittersweet Symphony'' is actually the song of the year, its strings and overall majesty establishing The Verve as The Last Rock Band. A funny lot, The Verve, they managed to become incredibly popular during their absence simply by breaking up and reforming. It's a funny old rock and roll world. [The runner up track of the year is Daft Punk's ``Da Funk''. French people in good record shock!]
I know you like to solicit Lists of Favorite Stuff of the Year, but I feel especially ill-qualified to produce one as I don't seem to have paid as much attention to New Music as might perhaps have been desirable. ((No way, you still have YOUR favorite stuff of the year. I probably haven't either. All I can talk about are the records I have and know. We all missed stuff, that's why it's fun to talk about it. I know every year I go buy some old stuff that someone else mentioned that I missed.))
Looking at ``select'' magazines' top 30 albums of the year, I'm struck by how there are a lot of records there which would probably be my favourites if I'd ever heard them, notably Cornershop's When I Was Born For The 7th Time (I've long liked Cornershop and am interested by their sudden acquisition of mainstream success), ((Oh, you REALLY need to go pick up that record. Quite simply, it is the addition of the brilliant pop song, ``Brimful of Asha'' that breaks them over the top, as I say elsewhere. If you already are a fan, you'll melt over this record although I do think their earlier work has some merit over the latest.)) Daft Punk's Homework, Super Furry Animals' Radiator, ((That's one that I think I'm going to go out and pick up.)) Death in Vegas' Dead Elvis (people are amazed to hear I don't own this record), and even Radiohead and their OK Computer.
Still, of the ones I have heard, I'd really rate Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' The Boatman's Call. I put this with Cave's Murder Ballads in my head, partly because they're the two Cave albums I own, partly because they're his two most recent. The Boatman's Call is an album about love, in particular lost unhappy love. The music papers bang on about how in particular Cave was singing about his own unhappy lost love affair with PJ Harvey, but they're more universal than that. A beautiful downbeat record.
Dig Your Own Hole was the superior second album by The Chemical Brothers. Big beat action, the kind of dance music that even haters of dance music can like. ``Block Rockin' Beats'', ``Setting Sun'', ``Private Psychedelic Reel'' - MONSTER tracks.
The Verve's Urban Hymns is pretty classy too. Now I'm wondering if I actually bought any records this year, like ones that came out this year. Mmmm. Went to some concerts though. Super Furry Animals impressed greatly with their Welsh rock antics.
I also got to see Kraftwerk perform at Tribal Gathering in England. I gather this is the first time they've played since they toured in the early 1990's to promote The Mix. I also gather that this was an almost identical performance to those they delivered back then. But I still loved this, it was amazing to be there when the four of them did their thing, effective use of screens to provide visual accompaniment to four blokes poking at synths. And I saw The Orb. They played in a pyramid.
I saw Morrissey play in San Francisco. He was good but the crowd were all losers who don't know how to enjoy themselves. ((I also have previously noted that San Francisco music crowds are a little too laid back for my tastes. I almost positive I have been to the Warfield where you saw Morrissey. I still remember how passionless the crowd was the time I saw the Levellers there.)) Er, I went to some really brilliant gig I can't remember anything about. That good.
Hercules was the best film of 1997 I can remember, a Disney film with good songs and clever plotting. LA Confidential was good too. ((Eh? What a pair of flicks!))
As I do, I've enclosed some of my more recent Frank's APA zines. You should treat them as letters for the purpose of pillaging for your zine. ((Oh, sure, and make this monsterous issue even larger? Except for referring to the Warfield, as I do above, I think I will pass - although I personally enjoyed them very much.)) In my flightier moments I daydream of doing you a subzine called The Voice of Reason but I doubt I'd ever do it regularly enough not to just be annoying. Oh well. ((First of all, you can't have a subzine, although you are welcome to start a subszine! Second, regular, smeg-ular!! I don't care about that and would love to add an Irish subszine to my growing worldwide empire.))
The pics in do you like my hoody top? are from BBC's Teletubbies. I recommend doing a web search for Teletubbies. The three unnumbered bars is names after a poster which went up around Dublin on lampposts - pointing out the bar codes are actually the mark of the beast! Of course you and I knew this already from watching the excellent Mike Leigh film Naked or listening to the Orb's ``S. A. L.T.'' from their masterful Orblivion album. Er, ramble on, oh yes.
Looking at tAP 199... blimey, Toshiro Mifune is dead. Blimey. Of course I've never seen any of his films, but I still love them. ((??? Oh, well, if that isn't FIAWOL, what is???))
I'm interested in Modern Diplomacy. It does look a bit like in the first turn or two the Egyptians will just gobble up Israel. Now how realistic is that? I'd kind of see that as a ``silly'' mapchange variant in that it in no way simulates modern diplomacy and international intrigue. By the way, is there any factual basis for the Black Sea - Caspian Sea canal? ((Actually, I believe that there is, although it certainly isn't a canal big enough for aircraft carriers or supertankers.)) What's the difference between Colonial Diplomacy and the real thing? ((Mostly that the board is bigger and there are more centers.)) Hey, time for tubby bye bye!
Drew James (Wed, 17 Dec 1997 06:00:44 -0700)
Jim, Here are my orders and a couple of music lists for you to consider for inclusion in your #200. Interesting to note that in 1981 when I started college I was considered by my classmates to be into ``weird" music since I enjoyed Punk and New Wave that you couldn't hear on the radio (I actually owned Talking Heads '77 in the 70's and I didn't know anyone else who owned a Sex Pistols album). ((`` `Punk,' was all he said. Mattieu laid a hand on their table. `Punk.' On that word their dialogue closed for ever: it was like the last rejoinder in a novel or play. Mattieu gazed at Boris and Ivich: they looked quite romantic, he thought.'' Sartre, from The Age of Reason. In a continuing series of ``weird coincidences'' about this issue, I was preparing see if I could look up this quote in the Sartre WWII era novel and found that Charlotte had picked up a copy at a used book store this very week. I think I'm destined to go read it again....)) My tastes haven't changed much (my theory is that people's tastes in music don't usually stray too far from where they were in college), but now ``my" music is considered to be pretty much in the mainstream.
Best Bands in 1985(in no particular order): Talking Heads - Proved that New Wave didn't have to be dumb. New Order - Somehow mixed Joy Division with disco and made it work. Brotherhood was the best album of 1985. Public Image Limited - Early PiL was as good as the Pistols, but completely different. After the mid 80's Lydon began to embarrass himself with lousy albums and the Pistols reunion tour. I first saw PiL in 1984 and he still reminded me of the real Rotten. The Smiths - Morrisey isn't God, but could be related. Elvis Costello - Nothing ever matched his Imperial Bedroom classic, but his mid 80's albums were still excellent. ((By pure chance, right after I organized this letter for the szine (on my laptop, flying back from Dallas on a business trip), I got in my car in the airport parking lot, pulled out a tape without looking at it and put in the tape player.... the strains of ``Man Out Of Time'' wafted out of the speakers... I have that album back to back with Get Happy! on the same tape. I hadn't listened to that in ages (I have lots of tapes in the car and I dug down to the bottom of the pile when I pulled that one out. I just love the support work from the Attractions on ``Man Out Of Time'' with that screaming intro and the build into the parallel outro.)) English Beat - ``Save it for Later" is still one of my all time favorites.
Best Bands of 1997: The Cranberries - Have yet to record a bad song. Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Ska and punk - outstanding combination. New Order - Only band to make both lists - are they still together or not? The New Order spin offs (Electronic, Monaco) continue to put out solid intelligent music. Oasis / Blush - Treating as one band to represent the best of British pop. Oasis might actually be as good as they think they are and Blush might be even better. Nine Inch Nails - Deep, dark, and scary. Dangerous to listen to when depressed, but who wants to listen to it when your happy? PJ Harvey - I forced myself to choose one from a number of outstanding female vocalists that are actively recording great music.
Drew James cont. (Wed, 14 Jan 1998 12:05:19 -0700)
Jim, I hope it isn't too late to add to what I sent you previously for the big #200. Here is my Desert Island Disks in no particular order: 1. Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bullocks - I believe that this is the most important album ever recorded. 2. Joy Division - Closer - No band has ever matched the emotion and originality of their music. 3. New Order - Brotherhood - I could have picked any one of several outstanding albums by the world's greatest band. 4. Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom - Great story which shows Elvis at his best song writing. Too bad he can't sing. 5. Oasis - Definitely Maybe - Pop at its best. 6. Talking Heads - Talking Heads '77 - Has other great songs besides just Psycho Killer. 7. Sinead O'Connor - The Lion and the Cobra - Great songs, great music, great hair. 8. Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - The in-your-face politics leave nothing to interpret. 9. Clash - London Calling - One of the few multi-record albums that shouldn't have been shortened to a single LP. 10. Jesus and Mary Chain - Psycho Candy - Proved that feedback could be a musical instrument.
Drew James cont. (Fri, 16 Jan 1998 05:45:50 -0700)
Jim, I just received my copy of Undercover S.K.A. in the mail last night. You were right - it is excellent. I was relieved to see that ``no animals were injured in the recording of the CD". As a matter of fact, I've grown to trust your recommendations. In the past several months I have picked up The Toasters, Radiohead, and Stereolab as a result of your reviews in TAP. You haven't steered me wrong yet. ((A segment of our tastes is extremely similar. We both use Joy Division as a crucial touchstone. Since I'm a little older I seem to like Joy Division more than you do and you seem to like New Order more than me.)) You know that I am a New Order fan from way back (before Blue Monday made them big in the US) and I was wondering what your opinion is of Hook's Monaco CD - Music for Pleasure. ((Haven't heard it, looks like you're returning the favor. I'll have to go seek it out.)) I think it is far better than Electronic's releases and better than (oh I hate to say it) New Order's last CD Republic.
((Thanks, Drew! Now, last but far from least, is my subszine editor, Pete Sullivan!))
Pete Sullivan (Fri, 26 Dec 1997 11:14:35)
My own connection with Scott Hanson is that when he stopped doing Irksome!, he produced a ``roving international subzeen" called Bahnhof Zoo. For a while, my zeen C'est Magnifique was the British location for this subzeen. Because CMag was mimeo rather than photocopied, I had to retype the whole thing in order to include it, using the old manual typewriter rather than the electric in order to ensure that it had a different font/look to the main zeen (i.e. that it looked like a subzeen). The main thing I remember about Bahnhof Zoo was that it was the first zeen I ever saw that used the Rohan notation (i.e. instead of using underlining to denote failed moves, use CAPS to show what province the unit ended up in). ((Really? Wow, I love that format! I think you're right, though. It's also time to begin trolling for another quote to lead off the games section. Ideas will be welcomed.))
``I have never learned ... to play the lyre, but I know how to make a small and obscure city rich and great." (Themistocles, in Plutarch's Lives.) Should provide a suitable link from the music-related lettercol to the games-related second section. (Yeah, I like it, it goes!))
Meanwhile, it's time to start thinking about a lead-off quote for #200. I realise you've probably got a whole host of ideas yourself, but may I suggest the following :
``Cotton comes from Arizona, Peaches come from Georgia And lobsters come from Maine.
The wheat fields are the sweet fields of Nebraska And Kansas gets bonnazas from the grain.
Old whisk(e)y comes from old Kentucky. Ain't the country lucky, New Jersey gives us glue.
But you, You come from Rhode Island, And Rhode Island is famous for you."
- ``Rhode Island is Famous for You," by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, from their 1948 revue Inside USA. I got the lyrics from the album Michael Feinstein live at the Algonquin.
((I want to go with the ``original quote'' with the addition that I originally planned, but I like this one too. Can't you at least give me ONE song that stood out to you? Sure you can.))
My CD-buying has been its usual small but eclectic self this year, but the most mainstream thing I bought was probably the new Paul McCartney album, Flaming Pie. ((From you, I shall permit this.)) This was the first CD to be played on this new PC (I know I should play CDs on the hi-fi, but it's downstairs and the computer was not). ((Yeah, that's a great concept.)) At one stage it spent almost a month solid in the CD, only being removed when I needed to access Microserf Autoroute.
The best track is Little Willow, in which Macca digs into his ``soft, understated, plaintive" vein. After the first couple of listens, I was already rating it as his best song of this style since ``Blackbird'' off the White Album. Having gone back and listened to them both back-to-back, I think I actually prefer ``Little Willow'' to ``Blackbird'', if only because I never realised until my ``comparison shopping" just how intrusive those ruddy bird noises are on the older song...
((That I'll do it. Worn out yet? Still have the games to come! Let's get to them.))
``I have never learned ... to play the lyre, but I know how to make a small and obscure city rich and great." (Themistocles, in Plutarch's Lives.)
If you want to submit orders, press, or letters by E-Mail, you can find me through the Internet system at ``burgess of world.std.com''. If anyone has an interest in having an E-Mail address listed so people can negotiate with you by computer, just let me know. FAX orders to (401) 277-9904.
Standby lists: Mike Barno, John Breakwell, Dick Martin, Brad Wilson, Jack McHugh, Glenn Petroski, Steve Emmert, Mark Kinney, Vince Lutterbie, Eric Brosius, Doug Kent, Paul Rauterberg, Doug Essinger-Hileman, Stan Johnson, Harry Andruschak, Dave Partridge, Andy York, Michael Pustilnik, and John Schultz stand by for regular Diplomacy. Mike Barno and Andy York stand by for the new Colonial Diplomacy game. Let me know if you want on or off the list. Standbies get the szine for free and receive my personal thanks. I'd really appreciate it if anyone wanted to be added to the list.
The current opening is for Vincent Mous' Modern Diplomacy ten player variant. There are about 50 supply centers and it is set across a map slightly more expansive than the original's European map. The game is set to start in 1995 and I will go with that date. All rules are as in the original Diplomacy rules with the Suez Canal allowing passage of fleets and a weird canal running from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea through Rostov and Volga. See the map in the postal version of this issue. Internet types can look at the map through the Diplomatic Pouch's archive. I'll print a clearer map that you will be able to read better next time. I remind you again to look at Chris Warren's evaluation of the powers' starting positions in Diplomacy World #83. Ask Doug Kent for a back issue by writing him at the address listed with the Zine Register game - I'm sure he'd send you the issue for three bucks. The starting positions for the game are:
BRITAIN: f EDI, f GIB, f LIV, f LON.
EGYPT: f ALE, a ASW, f CAI.
FRANCE: f BOR, a LYO, a MAR, a PAR.
GERMANY: f BER, a FRA, f HAM, a MUN.
ITALY: a MIL, f NAP, a ROM, f VEN.
POLAND: f GDA, a KRA, a WAR.
RUSSIA: a GOR, a MOS, a MUR, f ROS, f STP.
SPAIN: f BAR, a MAD, a SVE.
TURKEY: a ADA, f ANK, f IZM, a IST.
UKRAINE: a KHA, a KIE, a ODE, f SEV.
This game is very popular on the Judges and has been written about by Chris Warren in Diplomacy World #83. Currently, Sean O'Donnell (pd), Jeff O'Donnell (pd), Paul Kenny, Eric Ozog, Brad Wilson, Jonas Johnson, Rich Goranson (pd), Jack McHugh, Dave Partridge (pd), Paul Rauterberg, Roland Sasseville, Kent Pollard, and Harry Andruschak (pd) have expressed interest. Send your money now (first ten with money to me play!): $15.00 ($10.00 for a life of the game subscription and $5 for the NMR Insurance). Anyone who misses out will be named as a standby.
Conrad von Metzke recently finished GMing a black hole game where you can freely jump over black holes instead of having them render spaces impassible. I played in this game and like the tactics of jumping over the black holes a great deal. Now there the black holes were random, but what would happen if you could plan them? The next NYEED game will feature this rule change and will be a 7x7 tourney format unless I am convinced otherwise. I am itching to get this game started, so it will start as soon as it is filled! You get a life of game sub, and the game itself is FREE!! Sandy Kenny, Mike Barno, John Schultz, and Harry Andruschak are signed up. Off an offhanded suggestion in the NYEED press, we'll call it Nelson Mandela. Just three more and we'll get started! Come on, this one will be REALLY exciting!!
I also would really like to open a game of Breaking Away. Is there any interest at all?? Well, John Schultz is interested. Others?? You don't need to own the game to play, I'm going to use Keith Thomasson's house rules that include the ``how to play the game.'' I printed Keith's rules a few issues back, but some of the shaded parts didn't reproduce properly. I'll print the rules properly if I get interest in the game. I thank John Harrington, the game's inventor, for encouraging me in this.
Otherwise Conrad von Metzke is the editor and publisher of Pontevedria, the game openings listing, if you're interested in other game openings. Send Conrad a SASE for the latest issue to: Conrad von Metzke, 4374 Donald Avenue, San Diego, CA 92117.
(mikebarno of aintgotnocomputer.com as OBSERVER): ``At this moment at the other end of town, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were dying. Soon there would be exchanges of stiff diplomatic notes, declarations of war by Austria-Hungary against Serbia, Germany against Russia and France, Europe engulfed in flames, the battle of the Marne, Ypres, Verdun, the Somme, the flight of the Kaiser, the armistice, the transformation of the monarchies - he had studied it all with such keen intensity, and now, having seen the celebrated assassinations that triggered everything, he was unmoved.'' (Robert Silverberg, The Far Side of the Bell-Shaped Curve)
THE DUE DATE FOR SPRING 1902 IS MARCH 21ST, 1998
BRITAIN (Johnson): bld a del, a bom, f mad, f hk, f sin; has a DEL, a BOM, f MAD,
f HK, f SIN, a KAM, f KAR, f WIO, a BEN, f CAN, f MAL.
CHINA (Goranson): R a can-MAY; bld a pek, f sha, a sik; has a PEK, f SHA, a SIK,
a MON, a MAY, a U.BUR, a CHU, a MAC.
FRANCE (Sasseville): bld a ann; has a ANN, a TON, a BAN, f SCS.
HOLLAND (Desper): bld f sum, f bor; has f SUM, f BOR, a SAR, f JS, f NEW.
JAPAN (Dwyer): bld a KYO; has a KYO, f OS, f KYU, f SOJ, a VLA.
RUSSIA (Williams): bld a ode, a omsk, a mos; has a ODE, a OMSK, a MOS,
a PER, a FUS, f P.ART, a TAS, f RUM.
TURKEY (Tallman): bld f bag, f ang; has f BAG, f ANG, a EGY, f MED, f SHI.
Addresses of the Participants
BRITAIN: Jonas Johnson, 3649 SE 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97202, (503) 238-4430 ($5)
EcidLor of aol.com
CHINA: Rich Goranson, 10 Hertel Avenue #208, Buffalo, NY 14207-2532, (716) 876-9374 ($5)
ForlornH of aol.com
FRANCE: Roland Sasseville, Jr., 38 Bucklin Street, Pawtucket, RI 02861, (401) 722-4029 ($5)
Djrolandb of aol.com
HOLLAND: Rick Desper, 34 Woodbridge Avenue, Highland Park, NJ 08904, (908) 985-0654. (E-Mail)
desper of math.rutgers.edu
JAPAN: Luke Dwyer, 49 Middlesex Drive, Slingerlands, NY 12159, (518) 439-5796 ($5)
RUSSIA: Don Williams, 27505 Artine Drive, Saugus, CA 91350, (805) 297-3947 ($5)
wllmsfmly of earthlink.net
TURKEY: Terry Tallman, 3805 SW Lake Flora Road, Port Orchard, WA 98367, (360) 874-0386 ($0)
ttallman of linknet.kitsap.lib.wa.us
GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
1) Sorry again for the delay. You all received the correction on Luke's moves in the mail some time ago. Mega-apologies.
(BOOB to ALL): Wild and wooly press this issue. Lots of fun. Thanks! More contributions will be very welcome. We, of course, mean the ``postal'' type of press!
(CHINA-ALL): Sorry for the lack of letters this time. Work sucks and I'm becoming even more disgruntled. Never make a postal worker and a veteran disgruntled...
(BOOB to CHINA): I know the Associate Director at the Buffalo VA hospital really well, I've called him up and reserved you a room in the psych ward.
(H-B): I see that I confused you with the term `press'. In email play, all inter-player communication is called `press'. This is not to be confused with the Pitino Press, which is used most excellently by the Men in Green (including last night to finally beat the Knicks!)
(BOOB to CHINA): Never mind, burn the straitjacket!
(BOOB to HOLLAND): Kenny Anderson, the answer? I don't know.... giving up early on Billups,
(BOOB to PSYCH WARD): Bring back the straitjacket!!
(F-C): I'm on aol too so please don't try to convince anyone that our miscommunication was my fault.
(CHINA-BRITAIN (also Tim Rice quote of the month)): ``Through the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute, Comes the nasty suspicion, my opposition's a fruit." Quartet (A Model of Decorum and Tranquility) - from Chess
(BOOB to CHINA): One of my favorite lines too. Tangerine Dream anyone?
(CHINA-FRANCE): I see you found your emissary. He was trapped in a Cantonese restaurant. The food is just too good. Too bad the Brits ruined the place. What a lush...
(BOOB to ROLAND): I like your food, don't let him bother you!
(JAPAN to HOLLAND): I apologize about not writing to you, but you should receive a letter soon.
(CHINA-HOLLAND): Well, I think this turn clarified a few things, don't you?
(BOOB to DESPER): Not time to get desperate yet.... (LESS DESPERATE PRESS): What was the dirtiest line ever said on television? ``Ward, don't you think you were a little rough on the Beaver last night?"
(CHINA-JAPAN): You are sneaky, my friend...
(BOOB to SKYWALKER): Whatever could he mean? Don loves all kinds of parenting, just ask Dad for the car.... where's Eddie Haskell??
CHINA-RUSSIA: He's sneaky, isn't he?
(BETTER PARENTING WITH D. WILLIAMS): ``Absently, her mind on the TV she'd spent the afternoon watching, she bundled up the baby and put him in the oven and set the thermostat, and went back to her chair cradling the chicken. That stopped his racket. Sure did!'' (John Brunner, The Sheep Look Up.)
(H-M): Roland as the Beav? Sure, why not. It's funny you should bring this up. In my high school Jazz Band, our lead trumpeter ended up stuck with `Beav' as his nickname. Me as Eddie Haskell? I'm flattered. During my first year of grad school, my office mates all chose for each other actors to play the group in the movie version of the RU Math Dept. I thought I should get Kevin Costner, but I ended up stuck with Ron Howard. Really, I look a lot more like Costner than the red-haired freckle-faced Howard, esp. since Opie has gone bald. If I could pick any actor to play me it would be Tim Roth (of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Rob Roy, R&G are Dead, etc.) Just don't stick me with Goldblum. I'm tired of that math stereotype. Incidentally, Sam Jackson is playing the crazy mathematician in the next Crichton movie, Sphere, which is coming out soon. That should be cool.
(CHINA-TURKEY): ``Man who use power tools have very much split personality." - ancient chinese saying.
(BOOB'S VERY OWN CHAINSAW MASSACRE): Jim Burgess, who's he? Take him out with THIS!
(MIKE BARNO): Colonial Errors Affecting Our Times: ``For millions of years we looked at the ocean and said, `That is infinite. It will accept our garbage and waste forever.' We looked at the sky and said, `That is infinite: it will hold an infinite amount of smoke.' We like the idea of infinity. A problem with infinity in it is easily solved. How long can you pollute a planet infinitely large? Easy: forever. Stop thinking.'' (Spider Robinson, ``Melancholy Elephants''.)
(THE FORBIDDEN CITY): The Chinese emperor looked bored. Even the all-nude theatrical troupe performing HMS Pinafore with the transsexual modern major general failed to get a chuckle out of him. His foreign minister snuck up to him in his gloom and asked, ``Problem, Your Majesty?" ``It's the damn British, Chu. They want everything. They've marched on Canton and are threatening to occupy this very hall. And no one wants to help me." ``Surely things can't be that bad, Your Majesty. The Russians, the Turkish, even the Dutch must be able to lend us some assistance?" "Don't you know the ancient english saying, Chu? Once danegeld is paid one can never get rid of the Dane..."
(MULDER to SCULLY): It seems the aliens are working with the British. I've never seen anyone get so big so fast except for that one time I..... Never mind we all must do something about it before the aliens control the world.
(HOLLANDAISE SAUCE): I thought about sending a music commentary, but it would be basically a movie commentary in disguise. Like `the background music of Jackie Brown was an excellent homage to the groovy tunes of the 70s ((What about the ``groovy awesome'' music from Austin Powers? Was that way cool, or what?)) while the sickening music of Titanic has scared me away from even seeing this film.
(FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE): President Ronald `Dutch' Reagan announced his latest cabinet appointments today. Rather than go the usual route of selecting highly qualified political appointments for diplomatic posts, the Prez has selected those lovable 8-year olds of South Park to serve collectively as his press liaison. Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman will be holding their first press conference later today.
Stan: Asian culture has plagued the Earth for centuries, and must be destroyed.
Kyle, Cartman: What!
Stan: Oh, sorry, that's my book report.
Kyle: OK, let me speak. The Dutch government would like to proclaim its love for all cultures and its desire to seek friendly relations with all nations.
Cartman: Not that kind of relations! This isn't the Clinton White House!
Stan: We would especially like to clarify the problems with the British nation in the Java Sea
Cartman: Those *! of %*s made me miss my Snacky Cake Shipment!
Kyle: Shut up, fat %*%, you don't need any more snacky cakes.
Cartman: Oh yeah, well at least I don't sing with my poo.
Kyle: Oh yeah! (Kyle and Cartman punch each other. Kenny and Stan laugh)
Reporter: What is the policy of the Dutch government for the coming years?
Stan: Well, let's let Kenny explain it.
Kenny: Mmm-mm-mmmm-mm-mm-mm-mmm-mmm-mm-mmm-mmmmmm- mm-mmm-mmm- mmm-mm mmmm-mm-m-mm.
Kyle: Well said, dude.
Stan: Yeah, right on.
Cartman: OK, enough for now, I'm hungry.
MIKE BARNO WINS!!!
AUSTRIA (R. Ellis): a VIE h, f ALB h, a SER h; and
nuked TUN(2), VEN, EDI, LON, and at long last THE GM!! -
controls (4) tri, bud, vie, ser; FINISHES SEVENTH.
ENGLAND (J. Ellis): a LVP h; and nukes withheld -
controls (1) lvp; FINISHES SIXTH.
FRANCE (Schultz): f mid-POR, a GAS-spa (imp); and nuked BUL, GRE, ANK, SMY, CON(2) -
controls (2) por, bre; FINISHES TIED FOR SECOND.
GERMANY (Barno): f HOL visits Amsterdam social clubs (h), a BER-tri (imp),
a MUN visits Bavarian Illuminati (h); and nuked ROM, NAP, TUN(2), GM(at 664 Smith Street),
GM(at 666 Smith Street) - controls (3) ber, mun, hol; WINS.
ITALY (Dwyer): f ION h; and nuked KIE(2), BEL, CON(2), SEV(2), SPA -
controls none; FINISHES TIED FOR SECOND.
RUSSIA (Lancaster): has GOB h, f RUM h, a UKR S f rum; and nuked KIE(2), DEN, PAR, MAR -
controls (2) war, rum; FINISHES TIED FOR FOURTH.
TURKEY (Andruschak): f BLA-rum; and nuked SWE, WAR, STP, MOS, SEV(2) -
controls none; FINISHES TIED FOR FOURTH.
Addresses of the Participants Harry Andruschak, PO Box 5309, Torrance, CA 90510-5309 Randy Ellis, #1 Flamingo Lodge Highway, Flamingo, FL 33034-6798
Jeff Ellis, 2828 Hayes Road, #531, Houston, TX 77082 (281) 556-2022 ($2)
John Schultz, #19390, F-E88, Indiana State Prison, PO Box 41, Michigan City, IN 46361-0041.
Mike Barno, PO Box 509, Gardiner, MT 59030
Luke Dwyer, 49 Middlesex Drive, Slingerlands, NY 12159
Stuart Lancaster, 4127 SW Webster, Seattle, WA 98136 ($4)
stuart of scn.org
GM: THREE TIMES VAPORIZED!! Was at 664 AND 666 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327
|Times GM Nuked||1||5||2||3||1||5||3||20|
|Lee Kendter, Jr.||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1|
Game Notes (firmly orbiting in the tropopause):
1) I offer congratulations to Mike. As he clearly showed, a good way to victory in a game like this is to win on the last turn, the one that counts. Randy was beaten out by his brother for sixth place, although it could be argued that no one took Jeff seriously once he stopped playing.
2) The endgame statement by Mike is below. I'll accept further statements from anyone else, otherwise, this one ends. Those of you who were only getting this for this game (Jeff?) will not be getting the szine after this unless you sub or join the new NYEED game with ``leaping'' black holes.
(SKYWALKER-ALL): Well, it was a good run, but it looks like my reign as leader is over, for I finish with a goose egg.
(ANDY-GM): Pigs who know karate are pork chops. Which reminds me, why are you naming the next NYEED after a guy who does things backwards? Nelson Mandela went to prison, then into Government. Here in the USA, we do it the other way around.
(MIKE LOOKS AROUND): ``Men.... though under hope Of heavenly grace; and God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmitie, and strife
Among themselves, and levie cruel warres,
Wasting the Earth, each other to destroy:
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That day and night for his destruction waite.''
(John Milton, Paradise Lost.)
(CRETAN #1-GM): All Cretans are liars.
(MIKE to RANDY): What do you suppose ``otherwise dismembered the corpse'' meant? Might it have been like your fate in ``the Hermit''?
(CRETAN #2-GM): This sentence is false.
(JOHN-BOOB): What Mike showed was that getting me to promise not to nuke him can be an advantage. Once more he shows himself to be ``slicker than snot on a doorknob.''
(RANDY to MIKE): I got your letter and care package. Gracias. Bummer about the AmFac termination though... who will clobber me in `Titan' in the summer of '98??
(CRETAN #3-GM): You have no reason to believe this sentence.
(BARNO to ALL): It looks like I'll spend at least part of February camping in the southern Utah desert. In March I might end up in North Carolina. Keep using the Gardiner PO box until I get set somewhere else.
(JOHN-MIKE): Congrats guy. Glad to see you had a good safe trip.
(ANDRUSCHAK-TAP READERSHIP): I spent a couple of days visiting that strange island of Knights and Knaves. The Knights always tell the truth, they never lie. (They would make rotten DIPLOMACY players.) The Knaves always lie, they never tell the truth. (They play DIPLOMACY a lot.) As I was strolling along in my micro-skirt, I came across a group of three islanders who made the following comments:
1) Exactly 2 of us are Knights.
2) Not so, only one of us is a Knight.
3) I agree, only one of us is a Knight.
Who was what? ((This is easy, I will attach the correct answer to another one of Harry's press items in another game.))
(YELLOWSTONE to EVERGLADES): ``I'm not from here
I just live here
grew up somewhere far away
came here thinking I'd never stay long
I'd be going back soon someday''
(James McMurtry, ``I'm Not From Here,'' from his 1989 album Too Long In The Wasteland.)
(SOCKS-BUDDY): Remember, The White House is MY house...YOU just live here.
(THE ATOMIC AGE OF MADNESS): ``...there was a generally-held sentiment that perhaps we ought to cut this stuff out before we get ourselves killed. Fear of the atom was such an effective deterrent that it was over two weeks before war broke out again... Nobody would dream of starting the real thing. But just to be on the safe side, nations who had the wherewithal were busy distilling the earch and sea for plutonium, deuterium, tritium, and the elusive U-235, to store in bombs, rockets, submarines - even suitcases - until they had enough to wipe out all of their enemies and most of their supposed friends. And then they made some more, presumably because you can't have enough of a good thing. And if there were such a thing as an objective observer of life on this planet, he would shake his head in wonder and confusion, and return to the study of lemmings, who at least get a refreshing swim for their folly. (Joe Haldeman, foreword to Study War No More.)
(ANDY-GM): No sign of TAP-200. I am attending school in Norman, Oklahoma 26-30 January and will be on vacation 14-28 February. ((No problem, doesn't look like you'll be missing anything.))
(MIKE to HARRY): In case you weren't familiar with the variants I mentioned last time: Intimate Diplomacy involves two players, each controlling one power on the standard board and bidding annually for control of the remaining powers. In Perfect Dip, there's one space per player, all spaces being supply centers adjacent to all others. (Imagine connections sticking 90 degrees up out of Flatland through the third dimension.) Seven-player Anarchy Dip gives each player widely separated starting centers, promoting interaction with all players instead of a couple of neighbors. World War IIIb is a global map with east-west wraparound, lots of players but standard rules. By comparison, Final Conflict adds nuclear missiles and air support units to a simpler 7-player global map, with supply centers and spaces similar in number to the standard game. (Designer Allan Calhamer chose intentionally chesslike numbers of units and spaces.)
``War, to quote von Clausewitz one last time, is part of the intercourse of the human race (the crude pun is an accident of translation).'' (Joe Haldeman, in the foreword to the anthology Study War No More, a collection of SF short stories exploring alternatives to war.)
Well, hundreds of millions of humans got screwed, er, were objects of intercourse involving seven rounds of nuclear missiles in this game. We weren't perfectly efficient: we didn't kill (7 x 34) cities' worth of people nor annihilate 238 units. But we inflicted a lot of prime grade-A death and destruction.
Not just on European territories, either. We nuked the deserving GM (your host Jim-Boob Burgess) a remarkable 20 times! And some other justifiable targets as well. Jim didn't survive a single round of explosions.
Unfortunately we wasted a bunch when Jeff Ellis stopped sending orders. And there was some duplication due to mistrust and lack of communication.
But some interesting things were tried. The 7 x 7 tournament enriched the strategic considerations over regular single-round NYEED. The ``tit-for-tat" strategy; the R. Ellis Doctrine of nuking the current leader; a secret ``chain letter'' coordinating five people's targeting of nukes against two people. All these ideas were tested. Each was thought-provoking.
I'm afraid the seven-round format cost NYEED its basic silly-game quickness. As a result the game suffered from outliving the attention span of one player, and from variations in all other players' effort.
But we had fun. We generated a fair amount of press, some of it entertaining or enlightening, some of it... stuff. (``Spam maps,'' as Dr. Palindrome might say.) We generated no grudges that will carry on beyond this game. Jim got his just desserts, twenty times, and now we can all love him thanks to this proper balance. Untold masses of civilians have been accelerated in their journey to their destiny: death and the decomposition of their component particles. Yay!
Oh, and I won. That part's fine too. None of those endless pages of endgame statements for that demo game was written by a player who won the game.
THE DUE DATE FOR FALL 1908 IS MARCH 21ST, 1998
AUSTRIA (Ellis): R a gre-SER; has a TYO, a SER, a BOH, a TRI, f ION.
ENGLAND (Pollard): has f TUN.
FRANCE (Dwyer): has f NTH, a BEL, f TYH, f NWG, f LON, a YOR, f BAR, a RUH, a BUR.
GERMANY (Emmert): has a VIE.
RUSSIA (Sherwood): R f nth-EDI; has a MOS, a FIN, a SIL, a GAL,
f CON, a BUD, f SWE, a MUN, a RUM, f EDI, f GRE, a KIE, f HOL, a BUL, a BER, f AEG.
Addresses of the Participants
AUSTRIA: Randy Ellis, #1 Flamingo Lodge Highway, Flamingo, FL 33034-6798 ($10)
ENGLAND: Kent Pollard, Box 491, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, ($5)
FRANCE: Luke Dwyer, 49 Middlesex Drive, Slingerlands, NY 12159, (518) 439-5796 ($4)
GERMANY: Steve Emmert, 1752 Grey Friars Chase, Virginia Beach, VA 23456, (757) 471-1842
SEMMERT of city.virginia-beach.va.us ITALY: Mark Kinney, 3613 Coronado Drive, Louisville, KY 40241, (502) 426-8165
alberich of iglou.com
RUSSIA: Keith Sherwood, 8873 Pipestone Way, San Diego, CA 92129, (619) 484-8367 ($4)
ksher of cts.com or Keith_Sherwood of Intuit.com TURKEY: Roland Sasseville, Jr., 38 Bucklin Street, Pawtucket, RI 02861, (401) 722-4029 ($3) GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
1) The concession to Russia fails.
2) Randy has returned.... is it too late??
(ELLIS to SKYWALKER): Congrats on being accepted to Colgate University.
(EMMERT to DWYER): I guess I should say that you're welcome to the dot. But you do realize, don't you, that your taking dots from me won't stop Sherwood?
(MIKE CATEGORIZES RANDY): ``They needed to be discorporated and sent back to the foot of the line to try again. ...it is utterly impossible to kill a man... all we were doing was much like a referee removing a man from a game for `unnecessary roughness'.'' (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land.)
(AUSTRIA to GM): Will I let Keith join the club that Phil Reynolds belongs to? Sure, why not? One brutal, excruciating loss would seem to call for another.
(M BARNO to R ELLIS): ``...The rest of mankind accepted the ease and safety of civilization, lived in the bulging cities of the teeming planets. Their lives were circumscribed by their neighbors, and by their governments. Constantly more people crowding into a fixed living space meant constantly less freedom. The freedom to dream, to run free, to procreate, all became state-owned, state-controlled monopolies.'' (Ben Bova, ``The Dueling Machine''.)
(ADMIRAL LANGWORTHY to BARON VON STEUBEN): Good God man! When I sent you a shitload of my finest kegs of English rum I had intended to boost morale to your brave troops on the front. I had no idea that you would join them on a drinking spree which has left you immobilized! Now your poor Austrian Army has been completely wiped out by those bloodthirsty Cossacks! Remember old warhorses imbibe after the battle...
(TRIESTE): With the empire collapsing and Russians distilling vodka in Budapest, General Ludwig von Steuben boarded a luxury ship headed to New York City. Rumors abound that the former leader of Austria-Hungary plans to reunite with Ambassador Ellis at Ellis' commune on the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming.
(BARNO to POLLARD): ``He had met more people last night, for instance, in a shorter space of time, than ever before in his life, and digesting such a storm of information was like eating a nine-course banquet directly after fasting for a week. Mental eructations interrupted every argument he tried to think through to a conclusion.'' (John Brunner, The Wrong End of Time.)
(BARNO to DWYER): The vocabulary word for Issue 200's spot in your lexicon is ``lame'', a nonstandard usage connoting ``lamebrain'' or ``lame-ass'' which has spread into general use, typically critical in tone. ((You're ABSOLUTELY sure you don't want ``eructations'' to be the word for this issue??? I'd never even come across that one before.)) Example: ``Randy was sure lame in NMRing when all the small powers were counting on him to stop Russia from winning.''
(SKYWALKER-BOOB): Just when I was starting to gain ground on Keith, Randy NMRed and blew the game. If he had stuck with it (or can rally against Keith in the fall) I guarantee Keith would not have won.
(VIRGINIA BEACH to SAN DIEGO): Hey, I ordered some floods for you - did they arrive yet?
(AMBASSADOR POLLARD to AMBASSADOR EMMERT): I feel for your loss ole man. We seem somewhat similar in our fate. I understand the German army went down fighting to the last... Now you have an Army while we retain a Navy. The Russians cometh...
(HOW DID KENT SURVIVE THIS GAME?): ``The whole right-hand side of the dark head was - well, soft. Also the lower eyelid had been torn away and only roughly laid back where it belonged, so the underside of the eyeball was exposed.'' (John Brunner, The Sheep Look Up.)
(CALHAMER'S GHOST to YOUNG LUKE): You have made many questionable moves in the past (some might call them stupid) but last season takes the cake. Whatever posessed you to leave Edi (removing the threat of convoying across Nwg) and simultaneously blast your way into Nth, a move even you should realize would result in a retreat from Nth? You have made our uphill battle to throw back the Cossack infinitely harder by your remarkably inept moves. How ironic that you who have played so poorly will end up second.
(SKYWALKER-KEITH): You got very lucky. You and I both know that you would not have stayed alive up north and you would have been slowly depleted, but Randy let you win. Nonetheless, I compliment you on your ability to persuade players (convincing Steve to attack me and successfully stabbing Randy). That put you into position to win the game.
(AN ITEM FROM THIS GAME'S PRESS, MANY TURNS AGO): ``(Mike to Keith): I apologize; I thought we had Randy warmed up enough to give you a decent game, instead of being so much meat on a platter.''
(THE DISGRUNTLED WELSHMAN to VON STEUBEN): Bloody Hun! Did they catch ya unawares? Ye can always migrate south to Africa and join up with the rest of the lads...
(GERMANY to BOARD): This is unbelievable. It just goes to show you that you can't trust foreigners. Obviously, my curse on Sherwood didn't work; it more likely put his offensive into overdrive. I called the lady in Italy who did it for me, and asked her why the Y1.998K curse had failed. ``It hasn't failed yet," she explained to me. Ïn fact, it isn't scheduled to take effect for some time yet." It slowly dawned on me what she meant: She has timed this curse to take effect in GAME YEAR 1998. I want my money back. I spent TEN THOUSAND LIRE on this curse, and I want my money back.
(RANDY to AUTHOR OF `AN ANONYMOUS STORY'): Tisk, tisk, tisk... or is it tsk, tsk, tsk?
(ELLIS to ALL): So there it was: deadline day for Fall 1908. It was a muggy November day in South Florida. Randy, the cynical waiter, had but $10.00. The tourists were not yet plentiful and the few that were around were mostly old and/or European. Translation: barely enough cash for drinking money, much less anything else... Randy strolls into the marina store here at Flamingo intent on buying a $10 calling card so he doesn't NMR. THe Flamingo marina store sells only $20 pre-paid calling cards. Net result: no moves received.... I suppose I could have called Jim the next day, when I had $20.00, and begged and pleaded. However, I instead accepted my destiny and my destiny meant no moves received for Austria in Fall 1908. I'm not sure it matters any more but I do not foresee another NMR in this game. I offer apologies to England, France, and Germany. I offer tentative and reluctant congratulations to Keith Sherwood.
(BOOB to ELLIS): Next time, me boy, call me collect! You have $10 in NMR insurance up there so I would call you if I could. Since I can't, if you call me that'll do! Oh, yeah, and a good time to remind everyone that since I make NMR calls after the deadline, I accept orders after the deadline, as long as I haven't adjudicated the game. Keep that in mind in diploming and submitting orders!
THE DUE DATE FOR SUMMER 1909 IS MARCH 21ST, 1998
THE DUE DATE FOR FALL 1909 IS APRIL 11TH, 1998
ENGLAND (Lowrey): a lon-HOL, f IRI-mid, f BAR-stp(nc), f NTH C a lon-hol,
f SWE-den, a STP-mos.
FRANCE (Rauterberg): a par-BUR, a bur-RUH, f gol-SPA(SC), f WES-mid,
a pie-TYO, a VEN S a pie-tyo.
GERMANY (Kent): a BOH S a sil-gal, a gal-UKR, a LVN-mos, a SIL-gal,
a WAR S a gal-ukr, f DEN h, a MUN S a boh.
RUSSIA (Williams): a SEV S TURKISH s rum (otm), a ukr-mos (d ann). TURKEY (Sherwood): a con-BUL, a smy-CON, a ank-RUM, a rum-GAL,
f BLA C a ank-rum, a BUD S a rum-gal, f ion-ADR, f ROM-tyh, a VIE S a rum-gal,
f TUN-tyh, a TRI S a vie, f nap-ION.
Addresses of the Participants
AUSTRIA: Terry Tallman, 3805 SW Lake Flora Road, Port Orchard, WA 98367, (360) 874-0386 ($8)
ttallman of linknet.kitsap.lib.wa.us
ENGLAND: Michael Lowrey, 4322 Water Oak Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
mlowrey of charlotte.infi.net
ENGLAND EMERITUS: Tom Nash, 202 Settlers Road, St. Simons Island, GA 31522, (912) 634-1753 ($4)
75763.707 of CompuServe.COM
FRANCE: Paul Rauterberg, 3116 W. American Dr., Greenfield, WI 53221, (414) 281-2339 ($10)
prosit of execpc.com
GERMANY: Doug Kent, 10214 Black Hickory Rd., Dallas, TX 75243 (214) 234-8386 ($5)
73567.1414 of CompuServe.COM ITALY: Simon Billenness, 452 Park Drive, Apt. 7, Boston, MA 02215, (617) 423-6655 ($5)
sbillenness of frdc.com RUSSIA: Don Williams, 27505 Artine Drive, Saugus, CA 91350, (805) 297-3947
wllmsfmly of earthlink.net
RUSSIA EMERITUS: Ken Peel, 12041 Eaglewood Court, Silver Spring, MD 20902, (301) 949-4055 ($5)
KEN_PEEL of hagel.senate.gov
TURKEY: Keith Sherwood, 8873 Pipestone Way, San Diego, CA 92129, (619) 484-8367
ksher of cts.com or Keith_Sherwood of Intuit.com
TURKEY EMERITUS: Pete Gaughan, 1236 Detroit Av. #7, Concord, CA 94520-3651, (510) 825-2165 ($4)
gaughan of ix.netcom.com
GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
Game Notes (back from the tropopause): 1) The game specific standby list for this game includes Garret Schenck, Cathy Cunning Ozog, Mike Mills, Dick Martin, and Vince Lutterbie in reverse alphabetical order (note that Garret is presently missing, so I am running low on standbys here...). Mike Mills has been found, so tentatively he has been added to the list!! Guest press from potential standbys would be a ``good thing'' if they wanted to be chosen.
2) Anyone failing to submit press for two consecutive turns will be dropped from the game! Although press in this szine is generally black, I will make the exception here that I will say who has NPRed and is ``at risk'' for being dropped. Everyone gets a reprieve this issue since it is so large.
3) EFGT and EFT draws are proposed. Please vote with your summer orders.
(KEITH-PAUL): Did you keep your word, or have I become just another one of your numerous victims? I rooted for the Packers, honest.
(GERMANY - TURKEY): I'm interested in that classified ad you posted. What sort of benefits does the job include?
(MICHAEL-JIM BOOB): Check out the new Portishead disk, good stuff. ((I did, see above....)) I was also wondering what you thought of Dub, especially mid-70s Lee ``Scratch'' Perry, and King Tubby et al. stuff. ((Actually, I'm not familiar with it. I am not as encyclopedic as I look...))
(PARIS to BERLIN): We abhor the ``strong, silent types." They have the means to muscle in on us at any moment, and lack the gumption to tell us that they have better things to do.... Bear in mind the old Roman saying: ``Si tu non vereris ad me, ego veniam ad te." (If you don't come to me, I will come to thee.)
(ENGLAND-GERMANY): My cats say ``meow'' to your cats.
I'm holding my write-up on Ghods too until I have more space and time. I have given up on Ghods and it's write-up. Mark even moved and didn't leave me a forwarding address. The game history AND all of the negotiating letters may be found in the Diplomatic Pouch showcase:
This is FASCINATING reading. I've not heard any comments on it yet, but I'm sure I will.
AUSTRIA: Edi Birsan (edi of mgames.com);
ENGLAND: Jamie Dreier (James_Dreier of brown.edu);
FRANCE: John Barkdull (uejon of ttacs1.ttu.edu);
GERMANY: Pitt Crandlemire (pittc of syncon.com);
ITALY: Cal White (diplomat of idirect.com);
RUSSIA: Mark Fassio (jm2365 of exmail.usma.army.mil, fazfam of juno.com);
TURKEY: Hohn Cho (hohncho of kaiwan.com).
GM: Jim Burgess (burgess of world.std.com)
USIN judge: judge of kleiman.indianapolis.in.us
((The main point of this game was to take some successful E-Mail players, some successful FTF tournament players, and some successful PBM players, put them in a game together using the Judge E-Mail technology and see what happens. The game has now ended in a France/England/Turkey DIAS draw.))
LAST CHANCE FOR END GAME STATEMENTS - YOU HAVE BEEN A QUIET BUNCH!
|AUSTRIA (Jonas Johnson)||4||5||4||4||*5||3||2||1||1||0|
|Eliminated Winter 1910|
|ENGLAND (John Schultz)||4||4||3||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Eliminated Winter 1904|
|FRANCE (Michael Pustilnik)||5||6||6||8||9||8||9||10||11||!14|
|Draw Spring 1911|
|GERMANY (Hank Alme)||5||5||6||6||5||5||3||2||1||0|
|Eliminated Winter 1910|
|ITALY (Don Williams)||4||4||5||6||5||7||8||7||8||10|
|Draw Spring 1911|
|RUSSIA (Ed Rothenheber)||4||6||8||8||8||11||12||14||13||10|
|Survived Spring 1911|
|TURKEY (David Partridge)||4||3||2||2||2||0||-||-||-||-|
|Eliminated Winter 1906|
* = Played one short
! = Played two short
Four (!) neutrals in 1901
One (!) neutral in 1902
GM: Jim Burgess, The Abyssinian Prince to completion.
Addresses of the Participants
AUSTRIA: Jonas Johnson, 3649 SE 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97202, (503) 238-4430 ($3) EcidLor of aol.com ENGLAND: John Schultz, #19390, F-E88, Indiana State Prison, PO Box 41, Michigan City, IN 46361-0041.
FRANCE: Michael Pustilnik, 140 Cadman Plaza West, #13J, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 625-0651 ($8)
GERMANY: Hank Alme, 5157 Norma Way #217, Livermore, CA 94550, (510) 606-7265 ($3)
almehj of kristen.llnl.gov
ITALY: Don Williams, 27505 Artine Drive, Saugus, CA 91350, (805) 297-3947 ($3)
dwilliams of csiway.com
RUSSIA: Ed Rothenheber, 11757 Lone Tree Court, Columbia, MD 21044, (410) 740-7269 ($1)
Rothenheber_Ed of bah.com
TURKEY: David Partridge, 15 Elmer Drive, Nashua, NH 03062-1722, (603) 882-3523 ($4)
rebhuhn of juno.com
GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
1) Time for everyone to tell me what to do with their leftover NMR insurance (see the balances up above). Hank, Ed, and David are the only ones here not in other games. Those of you in other games will automatically have your balances transferred there. Jonas, you now only owe me twelve dollars for the new game start. For Hank, Ed, and David the default is that your balances go toward sub fees until they run out, starting with issue #202.
Endgame and Other Assorted Comments
Hello. My name is Don - just Don - and I played Italy in Friedrich Nietzsche, or ``Freddy the Neetz" as it's known on the tough streets on the Diplomacy side of Taptown. I play a mean Italy, and I play it a lot. And I play it to win. Believe it ...
There was a time when an endgame statement meant something in this Hobby. A time when a man could let his guard down, not worry about some random two-bit crossgaming scumwad busting his chops in some game in a back alley zine out of Washington state in a misguided episode of Megadip or pin-the-tail-on-the-asshole. A time when a man could tell what he was really trying to do in this game of misfits and malcontents without worrying about whether he'd be believed, even after the game was done. Well, there's a million stories in Hobby, some good, some bad, some true, some not ...
This story's mine, and it's all true. Believe it ...
It all started back in early 1995. My files - I keep a lot of 'em - show the first batch of lies - known as Dipletters to the Great Uunwashed out there - landed in my hands in March. Nothin' too fancy or showy, nothin' to portend or foreshadow what was to happen in the game. Letters from everyone, all six of 'em, all lined up pretty-like ...
Right out the door, Russia and Austria called for an attack on Turkey. Both wanted the green blocks to come gunning, too, and a smiled at both of them and nodded. Both of 'em promised me a piece of the other. I knew then that I could trust neither. I played it as it laid.
I liked the Frenchie, and had known of 'im, even pushed a few blocks around with him ten years before. The Limey, too, was someone I'd met before in one of the shadier zines this side of the Mississippi, the old Magus strip and clip joint out in the seediest part of the Pacific Northwest Coast. And Heinz ... well, I'd never heard about the Hun, but I had a good feelin' about him early, and thought he was the knd of guy a guy could trust to be a guy ...
Then there was the Sultan. Swiftly and deftly he tried to play me for a mackerel but I was havin' none of it, being the large-mouthed bass-type myself.
So here's how the stage was set ... Austria and Russia wanted me to hit Turkey, but they didn't seem to be on the same page. Turkey wanted the non-aggression pact, and was headed for Russia. Early, Austria wrote often and extensively, and fervently. It doesn't take much for me to ally with Austria anyway, but I was convinced this was to be a great and true team. So much for the good news ...
... the bad news was that I wanted his alliance, but wanted to head west towards France. Via Munich. With Germany's permission. I worked hard and long to get Hank's permission to ättack" Munich in F'01, with the understanding that he and I would work together against France, then England. France had made great neutral noises - something he'd do for years to come, by the way - but I really wanted to start something. I wrote to John's England, and he seemed positive, but distracted by events in his personal life - his dad passed away as the game began. (My own father died just a few months later.)
But back to Germany, Hank agreed to my move to TYA, as did Jonas, and said he consider the MUN move. With R and T at war amongst themselves - as promised - and Austria egging them both on, I hoped to turn my back on the east, and take down the poor Frenchie before they he what hit him. (Sorry, Michael, and nothing personal, but I've been trying to repeat this opening for years, since Gary Behnen and I did it back in '86 or '87.)
It never happened. Two reasons: R and T did not go after each other as promised. The Tsar's fleet held in Sev, and his armies went to Gal and Ukraine. The Sultan cleared his fleet to Con; his armies were in Bulgaria and Smyrna at the end of S'01. (Both tried to play it off as no big deal ... yeah, and Kathy Caruso ain't the deadliest grandmother in Diplomacy history!) Second, and maybe worse, Austria opened A Bud-Ser and A Vie-Bud, letting Russia waltz unopposed into Galicia. Dave wrote a three page letter explaining the non-war with Russia, and ended it by saying Austria's opening showed he should be the first of us eliminated. My move to Tyrolia surprised no one, but it could no longer follow-up to Munich. (I'll never know if Hank would have given up Munich in F'01 ... I hope he says in his report.) I would hold this misplay - and I considered it such as I'd hammered Austria with the need to cover Gal from the start and he'd agreed - against him for the remainder of the game. Not my usual forgiving self, but I'd really wanted to play in the Froggy's pond, especially because Germany seemed friendly. John's England, too.
Fall '01 was intense. Rightly or wrongly - we leave it to TAP's readership to decide - I picked out Ed as the player to best, with Dave a close second. Dave, especially, had written a lot and was saying what I wanted to hear. Working with Hank and Jonas - and lying my butt off to Ed (not for the last time), we kept Russia home and at zero builds in '01. I thought it spelled the end of Ed ... with Germany, Austria, and Italy against him, how could he hold?
A/I had also guessed that the Sultan would go to Aegean, and kept that fleet home with F Ionian-Aegean. To make up for this, Jonas agreed to spot me a home dot and to make it look like a stab ... I deliberately misordered A Apu-Vie, probably fooling no one. All went well, but for one minor thing - Turkey moved A Smyrna-Ankara, allowing him to build a fleet; Jonas and I had expected to force his build in Ankara. This little sidestep was the first of many examples of tactical mastery that Dave would show. It had a certain and significant immediate effect in this game - he built F Smyrna without a second thought.
Boy, did we get the call wrong on Ed!!! Like most great players, Ed's misfortune in '01 spurred him to enormous energy in '02 and beyond. Most immediately critical, Ed worked voodoo on Hank. Germany decided not to pursue the anti-Russian stance in '02, deciding instead to go after England in alliance with France. (Hats off to Michael for turning that around after I'd been working on Hank to hit HIM!) Germany did build F KIE and A BER in W'01, and even moved to Prussia in '02, but Ed's diplomacy turned him; in S'02 Hank let Ed have Sweden, and in the Fall A Prussia headed south for Silesia. Germany's vacillation vis-a-vis Russia would be constant pretty much for the remainder of the game, and allowed Ed to climb back in with a vengeance, picking up two sorely needed builds in '02. Meanwhile, F and G started hacking at England, stumbling a bit with their moves, but showing an earnest alliance. The A/I also stumbled, with me supporting a non-move of the Austrian fleet in '02, even as Jonas nabbed Bul from Dave. The A/I looked to be doing well at containing the R/T, with Italy retaining VIE, but still not possessing TUN.
At the end of '02, it was A/I vs R/T and F/G vs E.
It would remain that way for a few years, with F/G having more success with England than A/I with R/T. Jonas may not agree, but at this point minor disagreements were routinely popping up between us. (He admittedly saved me a lost unit, though, when in F'03 he again graciously allowed me into VIE after I'd been forcibly ejected from Galicia by the Russians.) Additionally, I was beginning to be concerned about France's successes leading to a fleet presence in the Med behind me, while Ed and Dave put on a magnificent tactical display in front of us. (Again, Dave was particularly adept at denying us any advantage.) Finally, to be honest, I was getting a little impatient with the slow progress of the A/I vs R/T war. When Ed grabbed centers from both Turkey and Austria in '03 and went to seven units (from 4 in '01) I thought it was time we started serious back-channel discussions about a potential tectonic shift to I/R vs A/T. Stabbed by his Russian buddy, Dave wrote, pleading to become an A/I puppet. Over Jonas' objections - and hindsight quickly showed him to be right and me to be wrong - I argued to stop the attack on Dave, and we did for a couple of turns. (Heck, I wanted all that tactical skill on OUR side for a change!)
The slugfest continued through '04, with the witches getting the brunt of it ... after four tough years, John went down, while Dave was fiercely blazing away with two units. France and Russia went to 8 that year, with Germany and me at 6, and Austria's 4. And, believe it or not, I was still somehow thinking I could get something going against France - I moved units west to TUN and PIE in F'04 with his permission, hoping to slip something by him a few turns later.
Spring '05 Dave cut the puppet strings, rejoined Russia, and my A SMY got blown out. I tried my first, last and only stab on France, weakly moving to TYH. I'd hoped to catch him while he was busy finishing England's lunch and starting his assault on Germany. He wasn't sleeping, and immediately called me on the carpet for the ättack". I never copped to it, but I'm sure he never bought my pitiful "defensive move" argument.
Again, Jonas will likely disagree, but I thought the A/I was going nowhere fast, and I was still concerned that Dave would get France to come into the Med to his rescue. The contacts with Ed became more frequent, and we began negotiating the sell-out of both Austria and Turkey. (It was the classic "You go first" conundrum, and it would take another two months before we settled it.) 1905 ended badly, with the A/I at 8 units, R/T at 10, and France alone at 9. Germany, between an aggressive France and wary of Russia, began his slow collapse. Russia and France also began a sitzkrieg in the North Sea as they eyed each other warily, with the Kaiser's dots in the middle.
Spring '06 the knife came up and down on my Austrian friend's back, while Russia did Turkey for the second time. Three units were annihilated and another sent into retreat. The stabs were effective and the I/R alliance, though it would be short-lived, had come about. At the end of the year, Turkey succumbed after six years of magnificent play. (Dave and I had a few words about what he considered to be some unsportsmanlike conduct on my part, but he played brilliantly against long odds.) Austria fell to three centers ... all were to be Italian per the R/T agreement.
The rest of the game boils down simply to this: I'd hoped to get enough centers from the Rape of the Osterreich to build the units needed to finally go west. France, though, was doing quite well in Germany, and Russia was getting to a rather large-ish size. I was hoping to get the two of them to go to war, with me going up the middle for the win.
Didn't work. On one turn, I was looking to pick up four centers with help from Ed, and was to use the builds to go against France. Alas, after I'd put two or three big lies to him in prior years, Ed was too wary to buy this and he simply stabbed me ... a turn before I could stab him. (I'd decided to use the new builds to go against his Russia.) Ed went to 11 centers. To Jonas' credit, he was able to ally with Russia, his game-long enemy, to make me pay for my treachery.
They came awfully close. Seeing the writing on the wall - and it was Russian script - I temporarily put away the idea of attacking France. I caught a few lucky breaks - including a critical build in Venice directly in front of a marauding Russian army. In '07, France kicked off the war in the North Sea with the Russian, and I began to breathe a little easier. Italy managed a reasonably stable retreat and eventually grew to 7 centers with France's help.
Meanwhile, the Tsar was still growing, and his win looked inevitable. Germany was still in, but thrashing around somewhat aimlessly. Austria had settled into his role as Russian puppet, though occasionally did suggest we could reforge the alliance.
The game probably would have gone to Ed, except for the one serious mistake - my opinion - that he made in the entire game. In 1908, France came into Piedmont to shore up the Italian defenses. He'd also had an army "retreat forward" on the German front - behind the German lines and into Silesia. For reasons only Ed can explain, he did not properly cover his front, and Michael simply walked A Silesia into Galicia, ending up north of - and behind - the entire Russian army!!! But for that one misplay, I am convinced Ed would have gone on to win this game handily. Of such things are incredible "war stories" made, Ed, and if you ever need a witness to verify your tale, let me know.
French Army Galicia effectively ended the Russian chances for a win. Using the army to keep Russia pinned down, the I/F began slowly grinding forward against the de facto R/A/G. I think Ed saw this quickly and tried to turn it around, but it was too late; he played it as well as he could, both diplomatically and tactically. Once again trying to resurrect the I/R near the end, Ed promised a 2-way if I'd stab France, and promised to give the win to Michael if I didn't take the offer. After much thought (and discussion with France), I chose to - ironically - stand by the very country I'd been wanting to attack since S'01. When Ed saw that the I/F probably wouldn't crack, he offered the F/I to end the game, while continuing to pull units off the line in front of France, tempting him to stab me and go for the solo. To his credit, Michael refused.
I didn't vote for the I/F at first; I was still hoping to find a win, an Italian win. (Only because I know Burgess expects such things from his players as he hates "stupid, boring draws".) I confess I used the fact that A/G were still in the game to hide this foot dragging. But when Ed realized that A/G might well be the voting non-starters, he brutally - and somewhat characteristic straightforwardness - cut to the chase and eliminated both A and G. That removed my smoke screen, forcing me to vote the proffered 2-way. Maybe I deserved the draw, maybe I got it only by the grace of French magnanimity, but I'll take it.
I would like to thank each of the players for a great game. It's too hard to pick out any one best thing, but I want to say that John put up a solo good battle against the F/G for four long years, Dave against (eventually) the entire east half of the board for six, Ed pulled off a miracle by bringing Russia to the brink of a solo win after getting zapped for zilch in '01. Hank helped a few times when it really mattered - but the next time you have the Tsar on the ropes in '01, guy, go for the kill!!! Jonas, what can I say? Maybe next time things will work better ... and ALWAYS go to Galicia!!! To Michael, congrats on a fine, fine game, and thanks for giving away your win for the draw.
To Jim, a superbly GMed effort; thank as always for doing the job, and doing it so well.
((Wow!! I'm really glad this was your contribution to my special 200th issue. It was a joy to read and to publish! What's with the rest of you wimps?))
THE DUE DATE FOR FALL 1915 IS MARCH 21ST, 1998
FRANCE (Rauterberg): has f SPA(SC), f ENG, f NTH, a BEL, a BUR,
a RUH, f SWE, a HOL, a PIE, a EDI, f ADR, a VEN, f ION, f APU, f NWY, f TYH. GERMANY (Zarr): has a MUN, a SIL, a TYO, a BER, a KIE, a VIE, a STP, f DEN.
TURKEY (Johnson): has f AEG, a TRI, a MOS, f EAS, a BUD,
a GAL, a SER, a BUL, f ALB, f GRE.
Addresses of the Participants
FRANCE: Paul Rauterberg, 3116 W. American Drive, Greenfield, WI 53221, (414) 281-2339
prosit of execpc.com
GERMANY: Harold Zarr, 215 Glen Drive, Iowa Falls, IA 50126-1957, (515) 648-2821
RUSSIA: Eric Brosius, 53 Bird Street, Needham MA 02192 ($5)
72060.1540 of CompuServe.COM
TURKEY: Stan Johnson, 1254 East Broadway Road #56, Mesa, AZ 85204, (602) 668-1105
GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
1) Slow is not the word for it. In the interim, a three way DIAS draw is proposed. Please vote with your fall orders.
(PARIS to BERLIN): Aren't you repeating yourself in your press? You sound like a broken record, but you aren't breaking any records here.
(PAUL to ALL): Okay, this game is getting a little long in the tooth; but remember, I didn't join in the fray until 1909! This one will be over before my last victory was (in 1920), but I won't pick up as many dots this time (22)...unless Harold plays Dip like the Vikings play football!
THE DUE DATE FOR WINTER 1917 IS MARCH 21ST, 1998
THE DUE DATE FOR SPRING 1918 IS APRIL 11TH, 1998
AUSTRIA (Davis): a BUD h.
FRANCE (Zarr): a BUR S a mar, a GAS S a mar, f BRE S f mid, a MAR S f spa(nc),
a POR S f spa(nc), f SPA(NC) S f mid, f MID S f spa(nc), f ENG S f mid.
GERMANY (Jones): a GAL S a ukr-rum, a MOS-sev, a VIE S a tyo-tri, a WAR S a gal, a pru-SIL,
a TYO-tri, a BEL h, a MUN-tyo, a UKR-rum, f den-NTH, f swe-nth (nsu), f NWY h (unordered).
TURKEY (Weiss): a BUL S a rum, f ALB S a tri, f BLA S a sev, a RUM S AUSTRIAN a bud,
a VEN S a tri, a TRI S AUSTRIAN a bud, a SER S AUSTRIAN a bud, f GOL S f pie,
a SEV S GERMAN a ukr-mos (nso), f WES S f naf-mid, f NAF-mid, f PIE S GERMAN a mun-bur (imp),
f ADR S a tri.
Supply Center Chart
|AUSTRIA (Davis):||bud||(has 1, even)|
|FRANCE (Zarr):||bre,par,por,lvp,lon,edi,spa,mar||(has 8, even)|
|GERMANY (Jones):||mun,kie,ber,den,hol,bel,swe,nwy,||(has 11, bld 1)|
|TURKEY (Weiss):||ank,con,smy,bul,rum,sev,gre,||(has 13, even)|
Addresses of the Participants
AUSTRIA: Rick Davis, 2009 Bodega Avenue, Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 773-1044
redavis914 of aol.com FRANCE: Harold Zarr, 215 Glen Drive, Iowa Falls, IA 50126-1957, (515) 648-2821
GERMANY: Charles Jones, 1722 Quail Circle, Corona, CA 91720-4155, (909) 735-8981
RUSSIA: Eric Schlegel, 314 Fords Lane, Aberdeen, MD 21001, (410) 272-3314
TURKEY: Richard Weiss, 195A Estralita Street, Tumon Heights, Guam 96911, (671) 647-3478
rcw of netpci.com
GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
1) The FG, FGT, and the DIAS FGAT all are rejected. All three are reproposed and you may vote with your Winter orders.
(GERMANY >> > TURKEY): Is there anything that I can do to get you to vote for a two way or three way draw? I will vote for G/T/F, or a G/anyone else. That is all. I will vote no to a DIAS. Anyway let me know what you need to get rid of the Austrian. By the way I don't see this game as stalemated yet.
(MIKE to RICHARD): On E-mail? Me? To give you an idea of Gardiner's pace of progress, if I sign up now, I can get an ISDN line... in 2007. No kidding. Guam is way ahead.
(GERMANY >> > FRANCE): Start moving West into the MED. Good luck with the workload. Do they pay you more when you teach more? Or, is it like my new job, more work same pay? Please move west past the stalemate line. I don't think that the Turkish player will be able to stop you.
(FRA-GER): I know you would like me to try and slip into the Med, but I am not even going to try. I just want this game to end, and I will not do anything to prolong it if I can help it. Perhaps you could persuade Turkey to vote for the draw. I am voting for every possible combination of draws in the hope that at least one of them will pass. Turkey will never be able to break my line, and that is fine with me. Just let me know how you want me to do it and i will help you so long as we can keep Turkey from getting any of my supply centers.
(GERMANY >> > JIM-BOB): I forgot what DIAS stands for again. Please refresh me?
(JIM-BOB to CHARLES): Draws Include All Survivors - here that will mean the four way that includes Austria.
(GERMANY >> > WORLD): In this long slow game I was stabbed by three players, Russia, England, and Austria. I cannot in good conscience vote for a draw that gives any of these players credit. I have no problem with a TGF draw and propose one at this time.
(MIKE to CHARLES): Now the task of determining whether Mike Barno is real or fictional requires some selective evaluation of the available evidence. ((What is ``selective'' about this? Do you have something to hide??)) According to three drawings (in TAP printed copies only) and press in ``the Hermit'', I'm a court jester, kidnapped while traveling disguised as the King of England. According to ``H.R.Clinton'', I'm a gamewinner and not just in lists of the distant past. When you read this I'll probably be in a remote desert canyon with only a PO box for a fixed address.
(GERMANY >> > DICK): I would like a personal favor from you. Please allow me the pleasure of killing Austria? His move into Munich screwed up all my plans and I'd like to return him the same favor. If you would like to help me please drop me a line. I felt real good slipping into St. Petersburg.
(GERMANY >> > TURKEY): Why are you keeping the Austrian alive? I know that you are not voting for the draws. Please refer to the press above.
THE DUE DATE FOR FALL 1911 IS MARCH 21ST, 1998
AUSTRIA (Pustilnik): has a SER.
ENGLAND (Hoffman): R f bal-SWE; has a STP, a LVN, f LON, f SWE, f NAO.
FRANCE (James): R a arm-SEV; has f ENG, a BUR, f MID, f IRI, a WAL,
a TRI, f BUL(SC), f SMY, f TYH, a BUD, a SEV, a VIE, f CON. GERMANY (Emmert): R a bud-GAL; has f KIE, a RUH, f NTH, f BAL, a BEL,
a WAR, a UKR, a GAL, a MOS, a RUM.
RUSSIA (Schultz): has a ANK, a ARM.
Addresses of the Participants
AUSTRIA: Michael Pustilnik, 140 Cadman Plaza West, #13J, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 625-0651
ENGLAND: Karl Hoffman, 395 Imperial Way #220, Daly City, CA 94015, (415) 991-2394
KarlHoffmn of aol.com
FRANCE: Drew James, 8356 Radian Path, Baldwinsville, NY 13027-9357, (315) 652-1956
dkbn of msn.com
GERMANY: Steve Emmert, 1752 Grey Friars Chase, Virginia Beach, VA 23456, (757) 471-1842
SEMMERT of city.virginia-beach.va.us ITALY: Dan Gorham, PO Box 279, Belmopan, Belize, CENTRAL AMERICA
Danielg of btl.net RUSSIA: John Schultz, #19390, F-E88, Indiana State Prison, PO Box 41, Michigan City, IN 46361-0041 TURKEY: Harry Andruschak, PO Box 5309, Torrance, CA 90510-5309, (310) 835-9202
GM: Jim-Bob Burgess, 664 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02908-4327, (401) 351-0287
GM EMERITUS: Garret Schenck, now lost, HELP!
GSchenck39 of aol.com - CANCELLED!
1) The FG draw has been rejected. Hmmm, there is no repeat of the proposal.
Press: (ANDRUSCHAK-EDITOR): TAP-199 arrived on 15 January. The deadline for #200 is 17 January. ((No, it wasn't, you misread it.)) Apologies for the poor performance by the Post Office. ((Mike Barno got it right elsewhere in this issue. I left the January 1 issue date on, but actually finished it about a week later.)) Speaking of which, the Post Office is sending me to Norman, Oklahoma 26-30 January for a one week school. I will be on vacation 14-28 February.
(THE CITY-VIRGINIA BEACH): I hope you took the time to annihilate that French army retreating to Sevastopol. I could really be handy to you from now on.
(GERMANY to RUSSIA): I give credit where credit is due; I congratulate you for succeeding where I didn't think you could. (We'll leave aside for now the help you got from Burgess.)
(BOOB to EMMERT): What help, what help? I'm a fair and impartial GM and will not put up with impugnation of character. Is that a crime, Mr. Lawyer? Isn't it called slander or something??
(JAMES to EMMERT): Hey, how did those orders get in there! Jim Bob was so pissed at our three-way that he must have put in orders for me. Trust me - I still want a two way. (BERLIN to PARIS): Let me get this straight. You stab a loyal, game-long ally, and you hope you've picked up a win and a friend. Mmmm-hmmm. What do you do to someone if you want to make an enemy?
(RUSSIA IN EXHILE-FRANCE): I guess that puts me in Germany's camp. Aren't things much more fun now! Don't you wish you had one more army? Doncha-Doncha?
(FRANCE to RUSSIA): That can't be my army all the way over there in Sev. The question is how long can it survive?
(TURKEY-ENGLAND): ``Who the hell are you?'' Somebody willing to pay $15 to Jim Burgess so as to be able to play in the new game of ``Modern Diplomacy''. ((A smart move since it ended up oversubscribed. Your position is guaranteed.))
(FRANCE to WORLD): I guess that I would like a solo after all. Is everyone happy now? The truth be known, I proposed a lot, but didn't vote for many draws.
(TURKEY-GERMANY): It is not so much a matter of my attempting to foment discord ``post mortem'' as it is a matter of disliking cast iron alliances.
(BOOB to TURKEY): Now, if one asks the question, ``among the Western Triple members, who will agree to the three way draw now?'' the answer is ``none of them, knaves all!'' Get it, ``knaves all!''
(JOHN-BOOB): Now, THIS is fun!! I'm rooting for Germany and might just live through it all.
(VIRGINIA BEACH to PROVIDENCE): Great. Fine. I'm out of the prognosticating racket for now. (FRANCE to RUSSIA AND AUSTRIA): I only want the win, I don't care where the dots come from or who survives. Do the right thing and you live, if not.....
(RUSSIA-TURKEY): Hit the Frenchman! Ally with Germany! Anything could happen! You could win this thing!
(TURKEY-GM): Concerning ``post''... I wonder if you, Luke Dwyer, and others are aware of what Shakespeare REALLY meant when he had Hamlet condemn Queen Gertrude for her willingness ``to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets''. (Even William Safire missed the point.)
(VIRGINIA BEACH to BOARD): Pitchers and catchers report on February 14. This, as we all know, is the first true sign of the approach of spring.
``Everyone fragmented and broken out... everyone gone home; I guess it's time to go, oh well... I wanted to say fall in love, I wanted to say fall in love with me, I wanted to say fall in love...
``Looking at you in desperation... knowing nothing ever happens... I wanted to say fall in love, I wanted to say fall in love with me, I wanted to say fall in love...
``It'll be all right! You were waltzing...'' from the only truly sublime ``Last Dance'' written and performed by the greatest rock and roll band in the world - The Mekons - on the greatest rock and roll album of the century, Fear and Whiskey. The older I get, the more I realize how fear and whiskey are... well, cycle back to the beginning and see the quotes there...
Personal Note to You: