Difference Engines It may seem a tad late to be posting a mix for January, but I sort of got busy and failed to do so last month. Yes, the CD Mix of the Month Club reconvened a few weeks ago to throw a going-away party for our member Josh McCuen, who's off now on an epic New Zealand adventure. A couple of us made mixes. Most of us didn't. I guess now we're more like the Used to Make a CD Mix of the Month Club, which makes perfect sense now that there are easier ways to share music than burning data onto aluminum discs.

Anyway, my contribution to January's shindig was called Difference Engines. This rather churlish and cheeky mix comprises mostly female vocalists, and the most if not all of the tracks are available on Spotify. Take a listen below.



(The story so far.)


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
D. William Shunn The first record album that longtime Tuesday Funk co-host William Shunn ever bought was Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione. He picked it up for the well-known title track, but continues to play it today for the Side 2 opener, "Hide & Seek (Ready or Not Here I Come)," which you should go listen to right now.

No, seriously, go listen to that track. Right now.

A classically trained pianist, Bill dabbled with keyboards and composition as a teenager. He eventually went to work for N2K Entertainment, where he helped produce some of the earliest online concert webcasts, including live shows with The Cure, The Allman Brothers Band, and Mötley Crüe. This is what the '80s sounded like from where he was standing:



Please join Bill and the rest of our glittery readers on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, for an unforgettable evening of Glitter & Mayhem! The needle drops upstairs at Hopleaf at 7:30 pm. This 21-and-older event is free.


Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
Glitter & Mayhem: The Speculative Nightclub Anthology We hope you're looking forward to October 1st's special Glitter & Mayhem Edition of Tuesday Funk!

That's the night when we'll be celebrating the recent release of Apex Publications' new Glitter & Mayhem anthology, a collection of original speculative-fiction stories set in the night clubs and roller discos of the '70s and '80s.

With tales by the glittery likes of Seanan McGuire, Christopher Barzak, Rachel Swirsky, and Daryl Gregory, Glitter & Mayhem is unlike anything you've read before. You can purchase your very own copy here, in physical or electronic form.

The anthology features "Subterraneans," a story by our own William Shunn and Laura Chavoen set largely at Medusa's, a Chicago club many of our audience members may recall fondly.

To set the tone for our upcoming reading, Bill and Laura have created a Spotify playlist to accompany their story—a "Subterraneans" soundtrack, more or less.

We hope you dig it, and we look forward to seeing you upstairs at Hopleaf at 7:30 pm on October 1st!




Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
Glitter & Mayhem: The Speculative Nightclub Anthology It was almost a year ago that I received the invitation—would you like to contribute a story to a speculative rollerderby/nightclub-themed period anthology? Well, yes, obviously!

But what was not so obvious was what I was going to write about. I mean, I was a good little Mormon kid back in the mid-'80s. I went to shows, sure, and I went dancing at a few clubs, but I wasn't exactly seeking out the seedy side of the scene. I remember going to see Gene Loves Jezebel at Club DV8 in Salt Lake City in probably 1986 and being distinctly uncomfortable at all the androgynous twin-brother sexuality on display. That was about as seamy as things got in my world.

But Laura was quite a bit more familiar with the corresponding Chicago scene, so I thought would be fun for us to collaborate on the story. We talked the story through as we walked the dog, and we took the milieu and its underlying ennui straight from her memories. (Other details of the club where much of the action takes place came from the Gapers Block article "A Look Back in the Mirror at Medusa's," by Sheila Burt.)

Right at the deadline we sent "Subterraneans" off to the editors. I felt like a complete poseur submitting a story of this sort, but Laura's memory was validated when this reply came zinging back from Michael Damien Thomas:

I went to Medusa's in the early 90s. It was EXACTLY THE SAME. :-)

Bullseye!

Glitter & Mayhem: The Speculative Nightclub Anthology is out and available now! It's filled with amazing stories by the glittery likes of Rachel Swirsky, Christopher Barzak, Seanan McGuire, Daryl Gregory, and many, many more. You can read more about it here, and you can purchase your very own copy of it here, in physical or electronic form.

Oh, and one last thing. Laura and I created a Spotify playlist to accompany our story—a soundtrack, more or less. We tried to include every song either referenced or explicitly mentioned in "Subterraneans." Not every one was available on Spotify, though, so we made a few judicious substitutions. It's heavy on the Bowie. We hope you dig it.




Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
At our April 2nd edition, Tuesday Funk co-founder Reinhardt Suarez returned to our mike to read from his new novel, The Green Ray of the Sun, and he brought some musical friends to back him up...



And if you enjoyed that, please join us at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013, upstairs at Hopleaf, for an evening with Suzanne Clores, Mary Beth Hoerner, Robert McDonald, Dion Walton, and former co-host Sara Ross Witt. Don't miss it!


Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
First things first. You look fabulous. Happy Valentine's Day, you sexy thing, you!

Second—look, I don't know how many more ways to say this. It's time for you to help support our Kickstarter campaign for the Glitter & Madness anthology. There's less than two days left to hit our funding goal and get it done.

If you don't recall, Glitter & Madness is the new anthology edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas and John Klima, chock full of speculative stories about the secret history of 20th century nightlife and party culture. The book will be published by Apex Publications and will feature a standalone novella from New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire set in her InCryptid universe. There will also be stories by Alan DeNiro, Amal El-Mohtar, Daryl Gregory, Damien Walters Grintalis, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kat Howard, Jennifer Pelland, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Diana Rowland, Sofia Samatar, David J. Schwartz, Rachel Swirsky, and yours truly.

What's more, there are plenty of exciting recent developments. For instance, Amber Benson of Buffy fame, an accomplished writer and director in her own right, is going to write the introduction to the anthology. How cool is that?



Also, there are plenty of perks available to funders, including Tuckerizations from any of a dozen different contributors at the $250 contribution level. That's right! You could be a character in my story, or Diana Rowland's, or David J. Schwartz's, or Jennifer Pelland's, or on and on and on!

But all this glittery goodness can't happen without you! We still have over $4,000 to raise, and only 48 more hours in which to do it. So please, look into your glamorous heart and dig deep to support the party anthology of the year!




Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
The following story is an outtake from my memoir The Accidental Terrorist. The names of most of the other participants, including relatives, have been changed to offer some small measure of concealment.


When I was eighteen, my father and I drove from northern Utah to Los Angeles for my cousin Delia's wedding. I had recently put in my application to become a Mormon missionary, and I had yet to learn where I'd be spending the next two years of my life. It wasn't for the sake of one last road trip with my father, though, that I agreed to tag along. I was hoping to meet Danny Elfman.

After the wedding—a brief affair in a tiny chapel like a sugar-frosted cake—the entire gathering moved down the road to the Arcadia Women's Club, a large banquet hall for rent, where a shaggy trio played jazz on a spare proscenium. A dozen long tables were set up in ranks across the room, and we enjoyed an abundant feast of cold cuts, casseroles, and cakes as the music played. "Hey," I said to my aunt Deborah, who sat across from my father and me, "I thought Oingo Boingo was supposed to play."

"All Delia and Sammy's friends are musicians," she said, "so lots of different people are playing. I don't think they're on until later."

elfman-boingo.jpg "Oh, okay." I glanced at my father, deep in conversation with Uncle Carl, and hoped he wouldn't make me leave too early.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. "Hey, is that my number-one cousin?" said a rasping voice.

I turned to encounter a beaming apparition in a powder-blue leisure suit. (This was 1986, and even then the look was smarmy.) "Markie?"

"That's me," said Markie, arms spread. He might have been taking the stage for a Vegas-style lounge act. "Didn't recognize me with the haircut, did you, Billy?"

The last time I'd seen my cousin Markie, a thicket of curly, light-brown hair had nearly concealed his face. Someone had taken a hacksaw to the tangle in the meantime, chopping it short and (mostly) squaring it off. "It took me a minute," I said. "You look ... great."

"Thanks. Figured my sister's wedding, I should clean up a little."

"Cool."

He grabbed my arm. "Well hey, Billy, come on. I gotta introduce you to the gang."

He dragged me first to a knot of shady characters clustered in a dim corner of the room. They had each made a stab at cleaning up for the wedding, but none had gone quite to Markie's extreme. "Hey, guys," he said, "I want you all to meet my number-one cousin Billy."

His friends transferred their beers to their left hands so we could shake, and I tried not to look too uncomfortable. I liked Markie, but his several arrests for drug-dealing were no secret in the family, and I figured I was rubbing shoulders here with a regular underworld convocation of scofflaws.

I glowed bright pink, ducking my head, as Markie gushed on. "He's the genius in the family. He used to say the alphabet backwards when he was just a little guy, wearing these great big, thick glasses. He plays the piano, and he skipped all these grades, too."

"Just one," I said. "First grade."

"And he's modest, too!" said Markie, slapping me on the back.

We worked our way around the hall, Markie and I, until finally we ended up in the kitchen among the fragments of turkeys and fruit pies, chatting with a huge dark fellow with a thick black beard, a leather vest, and arms sleeved in colorful tattoos. Markie dragooned him into helping us clean up the kitchen.

A half-dozen plastic garbage bags later, Markie's friend had made himself scarce. Markie leaned on his broom, lit a cigarette, and asked, "So what's new in your life, Billy? Girlfriend, anything like that?"

Markie's attention and his willingness to help with the scutwork behind the scenes at the reception had put me at ease. As we cleaned, he had regaled me with stories of close brushes with the law and of his drunken exploits at parties with Quiet Riot, and I laughed until my sides ached. His friends were nice guys, not at all the way I had pictured drug dealers. My horizons were expanding and I was feeling good. "No girlfriend," I said, "at least not at the moment."

"Bummer, man," he said.

"Well, it's no big deal. I'm leaving on my mission soon anyway."

Markie raised his eyebrows, dragging on his cigarette. "Mission? That's like what Uncle Doug's kid did. Lauren, right? Where'd she go?"

"Iowa."

"Yeah, Iowa. Where are you going?"

"I don't know yet."

"Hey, you're smart. They'll send you someplace like, I don't know, China or something. Not Iowa."

A broad open window above the counter in the kitchen looked out at the banquet hall. Markie puffed his cigarette, staring at the crowd. A new band played discordant rock from the stage, almost submerging the murmur of conversation.

"Hey," I said, "is it true that Boingo's supposed to play here?"

He nodded. "Yup."

"When?"

"I don't know," said Markie, distracted. "Party's supposed to go all night. Midnight they're on, I think."

"No way," I said, my heart sinking. It was only two in the afternoon.

Markie stubbed out his cigarette in the sink, still looking out at the crowd. "Hey, Billy, I see my friend Daisy out there." He motioned. "C'mon, you gotta meet her."

He led me through the door back into the banquet hall. "Who's Daisy?" I asked.

With a little backward glance, he headed down the row between two tables. He leaned toward me so he could speak quietly. "She used to be one of my girls back when I was pimping. She quit all that to get married, but I think I could still get her to do my number-one cousin for free."

All the breath left my lungs, like a giant rock had crushed my chest.

And suddenly there was Daisy.

She stood up from the table to greet Markie with a warm hug and a kiss, then sat down again. An empty chair waited to either side of her. Markie took the one closer to the stage. I took the other.

"Daize, this is my number-one cousin Billy," said Markie.

The woman dutifully turned to shake my hand, but without really noticing me. She was thin, around Markie's age, with skin tanned nearly to the texture of leather. Her hair was short and brown, and she wore a sleeveless pink denim dress so brief that it barely covered her crotch. The dress buttoned up the front, but she had it unbuttoned to the middle of her fairly flat chest. She wasn't wearing anything underneath. After her perfunctory greeting, she turned back to Markie, and I was forgotten in the minutiae of their small talk.

After several minutes, I grew uncomfortable and restless enough that I decided it was time to excuse myself. But just as I was making my move, Markie leaned past Daisy and said, in a complete non sequitur, "Hey, Billy—are you still a virgin?"

Swallowing, I settled back into my chair. "Yes," I said, feeling my limbs grow cold.

Daisy's head swiveled around like a radar dish, locking into place as its target was acquired. Her green eyes fastened hungrily on me, sparkling. "Ree-ally," she said.

"Look at that," said Markie. "He's a real Shunn. He can say that without even blushing." He stood up and patted both Daisy and me on the shoulder. "Hey, I've got someone I need to go talk to. I'll catch both of you later."

Then Markie was gone. My lifeboat fled, I bobbed helpless and seasick on an unknown ocean.




Daisy's shoulders shimmied a little. I could see the play of muscles beneath her skin as she squirmed in her chair. She hunched forward like a confessor or a confidant in her flimsy metal folding chair. Her bare knees nearly touched mine.

"So, you're a virgin, Billy," she said.

I did not find her attractive, but still she exuded confidence and sexuality like a musk. I swallowed. Her eyes held me fast.

"That's right," I said.

"So, Goody Two-Shoes, what do you do? Do you mess around a little?" She shifted on her chair, smiling mischievously. "Do you eat pussy?"

My mouth was so dry I nearly choked. The giddy thought went through my brain that if Mormonism were a graduate program, then this was my real oral exam. It took me a moment to find my voice. "Uh, no—no, I don't."

Her brow furrowed in question. Her teeth were small and even. "Well, why not?"

The scents of meat and cigarette smoke seemed to thicken in my throat. "Because of my religion," I said, somewhat stiffly.

Daisy burst out laughing. My cheeks blazed.

"Sorry, sorry," she said, waving her hand as she tried to get herself under control. "Religion, I'm sorry, I can respect that, I can respect it. You must take it very seriously."

I nodded, trying to keep the tremor from my hands. I felt humiliated.

"What religion is it?" she asked.

"Mormon," I said. "I'm going to be missionary pretty soon. I have to ... adhere to standards."

She leaned in close. I could smell the soap she had washed with, and I could see down her dress to her navel. "Look, I didn't mean to laugh. That's a great thing, really." Her voice dropped to a husky, conspiratorial whisper. "But tell me, Billy—have you ever seen the inside of a cathouse?"

"Uh, no."

"Would you like to? I could give you a personal tour."

"Well, I'm not sure I ... I..."

"Here, I'll give you a card." She felt the breast pocket of her dress. "Shit, they're in the truck. And I can't go get one or my husband will see me." She compressed her lips in thought. "Here, do you have a pen?"

I patted my breast pockets. "Sorry, I'm fresh out."

"Damn," she said. "I'd give you my number and you could call, but—" She shrugged. "Well, that's life."

"C'est la vie," I agreed.

She rested her chin in her hand, scrutinizing me through quizzical eyes. "Tell me one thing, Billy. Let's say you wandered into a cathouse somehow, and a woman there tied you up and started to rape you. What would you do?"

I sighed, brows raised. "I don't suppose there'd be much I could do. As long as I was helpless, I guess I'd have to just relax and try to enjoy it."

Daisy smiled. She patted my knee and stood up. "You know something, Billy? You're okay."

She slung her purse over her brown, brown shoulder and strolled away into the crowd: some wicked, postmodern Mary Poppins hunting children more corruptible to nursemaid. Her image in my mind's eye didn't fade so quickly as she did, nor did her touch on my knee.

If only she knew how corruptible I wished I were.




Dazed, I wandered back to where my father was sitting with Aunt Deborah and Uncle Carl. Almost as soon as I sat down, my father wiped his mouth with his napkin. "Well, I think it's time for us to be leaving," he said to the relatives. "We'll see you back at the house."

I looked at my watch. "But ... Boingo..."

"You don't want to be here until midnight," said my father.

And that was that. I never did get to meet Danny Elfman. But years later, that's not the missed opportunity I can't stop thinking about.




Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
William Shunn gets glittery at Icebar Tokyo It feels like we Glitter & Madness participants are, like, in NPR Fund Drive mode. I've already told you all about this anthology project, and if you still want to know more about it, you can head on over to the project on Kickstarter. What I'm here for now is to answer a quick Q&A designed by the editors of the anthology:

  1. What about the theme drew you to the anthology?
  2. Who doesn't love rollerskating and nightclubs and drugs and sex and debauchery? Who didn't enjoy copious amounts of them all in those gloden days of youth? Well, um, I guess I didn't. I was a Mormon. Okay, I did rollerskate, but I felt guilty about it.

  3. We're often told to write what we know. Did you draw your G&M story from your own nightlife experiences?
  4. I love to write things that I don't actually know. My clubbing experience was pretty much limited to once seeing Gene Loves Jezebel play at Club DV8 in Salt Lake City, and I was terrified for my soul the whole time. My story is actually about slippery souls in Chicago clubs of the '80s, which is why I'm writing it with my wife Laura Chavoen. She's the one who knows exactly what that scene was like.

  5. What's your favorite way to make life more glittery?
  6. I go to a comfortable bar with my wife and friends and drink classic-style cocktails until a glittery haze drapes everyone and everything in sight. Templeton Rye is involved.

  7. If you had to create a cocktail that reflected your story, what would it be?
  8. It would be a little sweet, a little bitter, a lot sour, and orangey-pink through and through. It would consist of Laird's Applejack, Clément Créole Shrubb Liqueur d'Orange, pomegranate juice, Peychaud's bitters, and probably a twist of lemon. It would be, in fact, the same cocktail I created in the video footage we shot for the book trailers. I'd call it a "Glitter & Madness."

  9. If you knew you were up for a surreal evening, what and whom do you bring with you, and why?
  10. I bring Laura because I wouldn't want her to miss it, and because I know one of us will get the other one home safely. And so we can all talk about this evening for years to come, I bring John and Shai and Ashir and Gretchen and Andrew and Cinnamon and Colin and Barbara Lynn and Norm and Rachel and Kevin and Mare and...


Oh, and one more thing—kick in a few shekels now, please! And watch this new video, where Daryl Gregory and others get all swanky and glittery...




Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Love rollerdisco? Love science fiction and fantasy? Then you need to support the Kickstarter campaign for the Glitter & Madness anthology!

What's this, you ask? It's a new anthology edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas and John Klima, chock full of speculative stories about the secret history of 20th century nightlife and party culture. Think glam rock! Think rollerdisco! Think glitter! Think madness!

The book will be published by Apex Publications and will feature a standalone novella from New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire set in her InCryptid universe. There will also be stories by Alan DeNiro, Amal El-Mohtar, Daryl Gregory, Damien Walters Grintalis, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kat Howard, Jennifer Pelland, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Diana Rowland, Sofia Samatar, David J. Schwartz, Rachel Swirsky, and yours truly!

In fact, I'm writing my story together with my fabulous wife Laura Chavoen, so you can be among those contributing to support her fiction debut! And the anthology itself will debut this August at the San Antonio Worldcon, with an otherworldly party at the world-famous Rollercade! Groovy!

Only three days remain to make nearly the half the funding requirement! Be glamorous! Contibute now!

What's more, there are plenty of exciting recent developments. First of all, having reached the 50% funding goal, the anthology is now open to general submissions! If you want to be part of this spectacular publishing event, check out the submission guidelines now!

Second, having reached the $8,000 level, the first of two book trailers has been released. Check out the "scary" version below. If contributions reach $9,000 today, the "swanky" version will go live. (Keep an eye out for me in both!)



Also, there are plenty of perks available to funders, including Tuckerizations from any of a dozen different contributors at the $250 contribution level. What's a Tuckerization, you ask? It means we'll put your name in our story. That's right! You could be a character in my story, or Diana Rowland's, or Cat Rambo's, or Tim Pratt's, or on and on and on!

So what are you waiting for? Change into your best day-glo fashions, strap on those chunky roller skates, and pony up for the party anthology of the year!

And if you want to submit a story of your own for consideration, here are your writing prompts:

Roller derby, nightclubs, glam aliens, (literal) party monsters, drugs, sex, glitter, debauchery, etc.


Do it now!


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Let me tell you about the night I hung out with Mötley Crüe.

Okay, to be honest, it was only half of Mötley Crüe, and it's not like we were out clubbing it up with groupies and blow. But we were at a club. I was reminded of this story the other day when I happened to hear "Shout at the Devil" on the stereo for the first time in quite a while.

This was June 1997. I was working in New York City as technical producer for a website called Rocktropolis.com (sadly now long deceased). Our company, N2K Entertainment, ran a variety of genre-specific music sites, all meant to drive traffic to our online CD store, Music Boulevard. At Rocktropolis we ran rock music news, contests, curated streaming radio, artist chats, and—coolest of all—live concert webcasts.

Some of our live shows were simply streamed versions of special syndicated radio broadcasts, but more and more we began to arrange our own on-location webcasts. We would get a temporary DSL line installed in the venue (if they didn't already have one—and they usually didn't), hump our equipment over there, tap directly into the soundboard, and stream the feed out to users via RealAudio. Believe it or not, this was trailblazing stuff at the time.)

So it was that my friend and colleague Andrew and I lugged our gear uptown to Roseland Ballroom one afternoon to set up for a special Mötley Crüe record release show. This was their big comeback attempt—well, their first one, anyway. Vocalist Vince Neil had just rejoined the band after an angry stint away, and the new album, Generation Swine, featured a touch of oh-so-no-longer-hip industrial flavoring.

Generation Swine For the weeks leading up to the show, we'd been running giveaways on the site and debuting a new track from the album every day. The office favorite—okay, the favorite of me and Michael, tech producer on Classical Insights—was track 12, a re-recording of the Crüe's 1983 hit called, imaginatively enough, "Shout at the Devil '97." Michael and I would arrive at the office early just to blast this tune at full volume in our little wing of the cubicle farm. (I wasn't super-familiar with the original version, having deliberately avoided all things hair-metal in high school, so the faster, harder 1997 version is still the one that sounds "right" to me.)

Anyway, along with our decks for compressing and transmitting digital audio, Andrew and I brought a couple of huge laptops. These were not just for running the webcast but also for the live chat session we were doing before the show with Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee—the so-called "Terror Twins." We set up shop in a balcony overlooking the club floor. At about two hours to showtime, our chatroom was teeming with fans who'd logged in for the unmoderated free-for-all. That's when Nikki and Tommy walked up to the long table where Andrew and I had the laptops set up.

Now, I met some of my favorite musicians while working that job, folks like Curt Smith from Tears for Fears, and John Wesley Harding. Chuck D. was in our office once. I even spent a couple of hours on the phone with Krist Novoselic from Nirvana, moderating a chat session. Hell, my boss was Nick Turner, who'd been the drummer for Lords of the New Church and The Barracudas. But of all those people, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were the two who looked more like rock stars than anyone else. Tall, muscular, slim, heavily tattooed, wearing their expensive white T-shirts, black jeans, cowboy hats, and boots with casual ease, oozing charisma. They shook our hands and put us instantly at ease. They came across as the nicest, most charming guys in the world.

We all sat down at the table. I ended up between Nikki and Tommy, with Andrew on Nikki's far side. The two of us had the jobs, for the next 45 minutes or so, of monitoring Nikki's and Tommy's activity in the chatroom, standing by to offer any needed assistance, and being ready to fix any technical issues.

"So, do we just jump in and start?" Nikki asked, watching the chatter scroll by on the laptop in front of him.

"You're both logged in," Andrew said. "Any time you're ready."

Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee Nikki started typing. I was watching Tommy's screen, and I saw Nikki's first comment appear:

Nikki_Sixx> Hey fuckers!

I must have chuckled, because Nikki turned to me and said, with a grin but in all earnestness, "Insults and profanity are the entire basis of our relationship with our fans. Which is mostly thirteen-year-old boys."

I thought this was a remarkably cogent analysis of market expectations from someone I hadn't expected to be quite so self-aware. I was thinking about this when Tommy, who had been pecking two-fingered at his keyboard, leaned past me.

"Hey, Nikki!" he said, sounding as proud and excited as a three-year-old. "I just typed 'Fuck'!"

I have to say, hanging out with them during the chat was a lot of fun, even if it was a little surreal to have someone who'd been clinically dead for two minutes after a heroin overdose sitting to my right, and the star of the most infamous celebrity sex tape to date sitting to my left, and who between them had been married to three Playboy Playmates. (Of course, we were seeing only their most charming selves. I'm not sure I would have wanted to meet them under other circumstances.)

After about 45 minutes, Nikki logged out. "Time to get in wardrobe," he said, standing up. "Come on, Tommy."

"I'll be there in a few minutes," Tommy said. He was having a hell of a good time chatting.

Maybe fifteen minutes after Nikki's exit, Tommy turned to me in consternation. A troll in the chatroom had been saying for some time that Tommy and Nikki were not who they claimed to be, and now he was urging everyone else to stop chatting with Tommy.

"What am I supposed to do?" Tommy asked me. "This guy's telling everyone I'm not Tommy Lee. How do I prove I'm Tommy Lee?"

"Um," I said, racking my brain, "I don't know. I guess all you can do is say something only Tommy Lee would say."

Tommy frowned, then bent back to the keyboard and typed:

Tommy_Lee> fuck you i am tommy lee!!!

Eventually someone from the band's management came upstairs to the balcony and insisted that Tommy get down to his dressing room. He hugged us both and went on his merry way. I'm a little bummed that I didn't carry a cellphone at the time. A picture of us all would have been cool.

I worked other live location webcasts, including a Halloween show with The Cure at Irving Plaza, and two nights with the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theatre, but our Mötley Crüe night was by far the most memorable. Now I feel like shouting at the devil, '97-style:




Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Into the belly of the beast I keep not finding time to post about my trip with Laura to the SXSW Interactive conference last month, but it was a swell time and I should probably jot down a few memories before a) they become totally instead of just mostly irrelevant, and b) they fall completely out of my head.

Laura has been to SXSWi a few times before, and she was adamant that I should come with her this year to feed the programming consultant side of my brain. We bought our memberships and booked our hotel last summer. We flew to Austin on the morning on March 8, the day before the conference started, which turned out to be a good idea in several ways, the first of which was entirely accidental. We ran into our good friend Scott Smith of Chicago magazine in the departure lounge at Midway that morning. With him were Andrew Huff of Gapers Block and Steve Prokopy of Ain't It Cool News. We were all on the same flight, and we ended up riding the bus from the airport into Austin together and all trekking to Frank for lunch (the only time that weekend we were able to get in, incidentally). We were also able to go to the convention center that afternoon and pick up our badges in fairly short order. The next day, lines at registration were a couple of hours long.

Venison sausage at Frank The panels themselves were varied and interesting. I attended discussions of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, smarter algorithms for pinch-and-zoom on touch interfaces, social/local/mobile services, online privacy, and even more abstruse topics. These panels all seem fascinating in retrospect, though I'm afraid that at the time most of them suffered from the problem of not quite living up to the promise of their descriptions in the program guide. Very useful stuff that, at worst, got me excited about doing more iOS programming.

There was time for entertainment, too. We made it out to Skinny's Ballroom to see Scott and Andrew (along with 18 other readers) participate in 20x2, an evening of two-minute readings. (They both crushed it. By which I mean they were good.) I saw a hilarious panel on comedy podcasting featuring Kevin Pollak and Doug Benson and others, and I attended Rainn Wilson's (sadly hit-and-miss) presentation about his spirituality site Soul Pancake. I managed to get into my own top pick of events, which was a live taping of Marc Maron's WTF podcast featuring Jeffrey Tambor. Jay-Z at Austin City Limits Live But it was Laura who scored the coup, using her Amex membership to get us a free pair of tickets to a special Jay-Z concert at Austin City Limits Live. ("HOVA! HOVA!")

And then, of course, there were the people we got to hang out with. We had dinner with our old friends Donna and Tad, who left New York for Austin even before Laura and I left for Chicago. I saw Stina Leicht—author of the new And Blues Skies from Pain, and with whom I share an agent—a couple of times. Welcome to 6th Street We ran into Rik Catlow, an artist we both used to work with well over a decade ago and whose work hangs on our wall, and Erin Dorr, whom Laura used to work with. And then there was that epic night with Scott and Andrew and Matt Wood and Paul M. Davis that started outside a journalism party and traveled through the Hilton bar on its way The Jackalope and a pedicab and shouted advice from a homeless man before it blacked out in a stupor. The less said about that, probably the better.

In any case, SXSW was a great time, worthwhile from both a personal and a professional standpoint. I hope to go again next year, although I'll be tempted to add a film badge on top of the interactive...

A full set of my photos from SXSW is here.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Before the first month of 2012 is entirely gone, I wanted to run down my list of the 10 most interesting albums of 2011. I didn't think we'd bought all that much new music last year, but I was somewhat startled to look back and see nearly 70 albums from 2011 in our collection. I'm not going out on a limb far enough as to say these are the best of that crop, but they're definitely the ones that were interesting enough to keep me coming back for multiple multiple listens.

I've put the top 10 in a rough order, then followed those with some unordered honorable mentions.


TOP 10 MOST INTERESTING

Strange Mercy 1. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
The only thing predictable about the dark, engaging songs on this third straight amazing album from Annie Clark and crew is their unpredictability. Clark is a brilliant poet, arranger, and guitarist, and every track is gorgeous, thrilling, and shot through with beautiful noise.  ["Cheerleader"]


Wild Flag 2. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Wild Flag is what you hope for in every supergroup—the best of every component band joined seamlessly into something greater. That's exactly what you get from the combination of Mary Timony of Helium, Rebecca Cole of the Minders, and Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, ten perfect slabs of joyous rock 'n' roll.  ["Romance"]


C'mon 3. Low - C'mon
I started listening to Low out of curiosity because the husband and wife behind the band are Mormon. I kept listening because they're just that good. This return to their low-key roots is enhanced but not overwhelmed by their recent years of experimentation. Pull up a pillow but don't think about sleeping.  ["Witches"]


El Camino 4. The Black Keys - El Camino
What can I tell you about the new Black Keys album that you don't already know? Their secret weapon is Danger Mouse, back in the producer's chair, who adds just the right background touches to make these strong straight-ahead stompers something more than just your basic blues blasts.  ["Gold on the Ceiling"]


Here Before 5. The Feelies - Here Before
No one ever expected the Feelies—a huge influence on bands like R.E.M.—to reunite for an album of new material in 2011, much less that it would be their best in the 31 years since their debut. Strikingly confident and direct for all that it's about questioning their place in the world of today, this one's worth the price of admission for the slinky, sly guitar solos alone.  ["Time Is Right"]


Nine Types of Light 6. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
The kings of moody, layered avant-pop deemphasize their trademark wall-of-vocals sound for an album that on first listen seems more simple and sunny than anything this band that never repeats itself has ever done. But subsequent spins reveals more depth and nuance beneath the sunshine than is immediately apparent.  ["No Future Shock"]


Kaputt 7. Destroyer - Kaputt
Despite my admiration for The New Pornographers, I didn't expect to like this album from Dan Behar's main project nearly as much as I do. It plays like a great lost record from one of the New Romantic bands of the '80s. Think Spandau Ballet but, you know, good["Song for America"]


Undun 8. The Roots - Undun
Renowned as the best live band in hip-hop, the Roots don't get the attention on record they deserve. Which is a shame, because this concept album tracing the life of a murdered thug in reverse, like all their records, is a clear, angry, artful distillation of life in a segment of society that remains unseen to many of us.  ["The OtherSide"]


What Were You Hoping For? 9. Van Hunt - What Were You Hoping For?
File this freak-R&B excursion somewhere between Prince at his quirkiest or the N*E*R*D of Fly or Die. I still don't know whether or not I like its off-kilter melodies and fractured lyrics, but I know I can't stop listening to it.  ["Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane"]


The Hunter 10. Mastodon - The Hunter
The prog-metal monsters scale their epic tendencies down into pure pop nuggets, showing us every last thing they can do along the way. Okay, it's no Crack the Skye, but it is fierce, fast, virtuosic, surprising, and addictive.  ["Curl of the Burl"]



HONORABLE MENTIONS

And now, twelve albums that didn't quite make the cut but still rewarded repeat listens over the past year.

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
They rap like the last twenty years never happened, and that's why I love them.


50 Words for Snow Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow
Only Kate Bush could make seven epic tracks about snow this compelling.


Camp Childish Gambino - Camp
Troy from Community is equally fresh, inventive, and stinging when rapping about childhood as when examining the asshole inside all of us. (Is there nothing Donald Glover can't do?)


Rome Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome
The soundtrack to an imaginary spaghetti Western that you can almost see playing in your head.


The King Is Dead The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
Colin Meloy has obviously stepped away from the renaissance fair and started listening to early R.E.M. again.


Go-Go Boots Drive-By Truckers - Go-Go Boots
Sad, sad stories dripping with grease from the deep-fry pot.


Take Care, Take Care, Take Care Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
I always look forward to a new offering from these kings of nuanced instrumental rock.


David Comes to Life Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
A towering punk-pop opus that beats Green Day at their own game.


Constant Future Parts and Labor - Constant Future
Anthemic pop filtered through a lonely-road car stereo tuned partway to static.


Stone Rollin' Raphael Saadiq - Stone Rollin'
Lyrically this probably couldn't have been produced in the early '60s, but sonically it could. And that's good.


So Beautiful or So What Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What
Never one to rest on his laurels, Simon brings a new set of modern textures to bear on his craftsmanlike songs.


For True Trombone Shorty - For True
New Orleans jazz-funk meets hip-hop in a fun and bracing brew.



SPECIAL COMEDY MENTION

And finally, one album of stand-up comedy without which my 2011 list would be incomplete.

This Has to Be Funny Marc Maron - This Has to Be Funny
The celebrated WTF Podcast has brought him wider acclaim, but this funny, painful document of his stand-up amply shows the well of lacerating self-analysis from which the harsh compassion of his interview style derives.  ["Working Out Their Daddy Issues"]



Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Five years ago today, Michael Brecker—one of my favorite saxophone players, and a pioneer on the instrument in many ways—passed away of complications from leukemia. He had suffered from the rare blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome, and never found a matching donor for a successful stem cell transplant.

Brecker was one of the most in-demand session players of his time, besides being a consummate jazz innovator in his own right. He was also instrumental in promoting and pioneering the use of the EWI (electronic wind instrument). Back in 2007, I put together a Michael Brecker tribute mix as my contribution to the CD Mix of the Month Club I used to belong to in New York. Called Tenor of the Times, it contained a sampling of some of his best work both as sideman and band leader. On this anniversary of his passing, I thought I'd make a zip file of the mix available. Grab it quick—I won't leave it up for long. Some liner notes are here.

RIP.

Download (88 Mb)


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Hopleaf, the place for Tuesday Funk In our humble opinion, Tuesday Funk just keeps getting better and better. What can we submit as evidence, you ask? May it please the court, we present our August 2nd reading at Hopleaf, which, in succession, drew a standing-room crowd and blew its socks off. Honest, we had to gather up all the socks after the audience had departed. The occasion was, in part, a makeup session for some of the readers from our legendary February reading who were prevented from attending by the blizzard, with a couple of jokers tossed into the deck to keep everyone on their toes.

Blizzard refugee Karen Skalitzky kicked things off with "Out," a funny and heartfelt excerpt from her memoir-in-progress. Sondra Morin favored us with a sheaf of her superb poetry. And snowstorm reschedulee Julie Rosenthal enthralled with excerpts from two of her short stories.

Tuesday Funk, December 7, 2010

After a break to let our audience visit John at the bar, co-host William Shunn read his poem "Immortality." Tegan Jones scored with an excerpt from her novel-in-progress The Year of the Rabbit. February returnee Eden M. Robins delighted us with the prologue from her novel The Grand Adventure of Aught-Nine. And the prodigal yet prodigious Jerry Schwartz hit big with a reading and a song from his novel Pixels of Young Mueller.

(You can check out Jerry's song, "The King of I Don't Care," in the video below, or watch his full performance here. Or if you'd prefer to watch the entire evening's program straight through, you can do that here.)

In short, it was far more than just a makeup session—more like a makeout session with the minds of our Tuesday Funk audience. And if you want to get that same treatment, please join us September 6th for an evening with Edison Blake, Carissa DiGiovanni, AD Jameson, Noreen Natale, and Naomi Buck Palagi. We promise you won't regret it the morning after.




Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
Where's mine? [sung to the tune of "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath]

She's my hungry bear
She's the little dog with the golden hair
She'll just sit and stare
Anytime I'm eating and I won't share

Nobody feeds her
She just stands there and pouts
(do do do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do)
She's gonna starve soon
Of this she has no doubts
(do do do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do)

Hey there, hungry bear
Your bowl's full of pheasant and ground-up hare
Ain't no cheese on there
So you walk out with your nose in the air
Support Chicago radio personality James VanOsdol's history of the local '90s rock scene, Chicago Rocked! He's funding the project through Kickstarter.com and only has 13 days to raise another more than $10,000. Please pledge if you can, because I selfishly really, really want to read this book.
When all my dime-dancing is through, I run to you Winter is not here yet, but it has definitely RSVP'd this past week. Summer had finally shown up after slumming somewhere down south but only hung out for a couple of weeks before autumn served it its eviction notice. I know that in a few months we'll be longing for temperatures in the 50s, but right now it feels cold as hell out there.

Fortunately, it was hot inside the Chicago Theater last night, once everyone thronging the sidewalks stopped taking pictures of the marquee and squeezed themselves through the doors. As part of their Rent Party '09 tour, Steely Dan is playing complete albums in a few cities. Chicago is fortunate enough to have gotten Aja last night, and gets Gaucho tonight and The Royal Scam on Thursday. I wish I could go every night, but Laura and I could choose only one, so we agreed on Aja.

It was a fantastic show, with an incredible cross-section of great songs. I won't be posting a full review, but I do want to note a couple of things. First, this was the first show we've been to in a long time, with the possible exception of AC/DC, where the majority of the crowd appeared to be older than we. (Definitely not the case at, say, The Dead Weather a few weeks back.) Second, having listened to it countless times over the past 32 years, I can't quite put my finger on why "Deacon Blues" made me all teary last night. Maybe I, I want a name when I lose.



Aja Classic Album (Plus) Night Setlist )
As a fan of the band The Negro Problem, I was delighted to pick up the following throwaway tidbit from a New Yorker blog post by John Colapinto:

{Spike] Lee's next excursion into the question of race in America is his filmed version of "Passing Strange," the remarkable musical by [Negro Problem leader] Stew. I watched Lee shooting this production last June, in the Belasco Theatre in New York. The movie will be released, Lee tells me, in late August, at the IFC Center, in Manhattan.  [full post]
I learn from Stew's website that it's also been picked up by PBS for a Great Performances airing in 2010, and possibly will have a theatrical run this fall.

Having missed the run of Passing Strange in New York, I'm glad there are going to be multiple opportunites to see it.
I may have shared this video before, but I was waxing nostalgic about the (now broken-up) Rogers Sisters today and had to rewatch the charming video for their excellent song "Emotion Control," from their album The Invisible Deck:

Emotion Control

(Doesn't the guy in the video remind you a little of Jim from The Office?)

Maybe I was feeling nostalgic about working in an office (not that I want to do that again). That's the context from which I once knew Rogers Sisters bassist Miyuki Furtado&151;we worked together in an office for a few months back in 2000 or so. Check out his new band Shock Cinema.
I loved this LCD Soundsystem song even before I saw the video, but now I love it even more.

April 2014

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