Phone Book

Been in the house for 2 weeks (3?) so I might as well point this microscope/telescope back in time and switch to archive mode for a little bit, with a look at PHONE BOOK.

PHONE BOOK was a band circa 2006-2007, me and Jim "GT" Tarantino. By this time I had been playing shows for a few years, and I was sort of sick of the way I was playing music- songs with lyrics, accompanied and shaped by guitar chords, played in a quietish setting. My primary practice at the time was writing-- I was keeping a pretty meticulous blog and all my other projects sort of filtered through that, and were informed by that. The song writing I was doing was very much writing- little stories described directly, with cleverness but almost no abstraction. I still like those songs, or most of them anyway, or some of them, but they became tiresome to me. I wanted to engage in abstraction, and do something that I didn't understand, without relying on language or cleverness. I wanted the music to come from somewhere in my body other than my brain, or from somewhere beyond my body. JJB Buckmaster from the Terribles, probably the band I've seen more than any other, has a great expression that sweeps across his face when he's playing guitar, where it looks like his brain is confused but also delighted by what his hands are doing. His face and mind are in the front row for a performance by something deeper. I wanted that experience, despite not having anywhere near the ability that Bucky has, on any instrument.

I had a couple ideas for how to proceed, and me and Jim started playing together as a two-piece, guitar and drums, in the model of Vampire Belt and Horse Spirit Penetrates. The name oscillated at first between "Ribbon Dancer" and "Phone Book", but we went with Phone Book for a couple reasons. First, it was something that at the time was rapidly becoming obsolete-- I never would've named a band Phone Book in 1995 but by 2006 I felt like those words were almost meaningless again. Pretty soon "Phone Book" would make as much sense as "Strawberry Alarm Clock". Another reason is that my old roommate Shawn had a story about going on tour with someone annoying and the other band they were with told Shawn that they could knock the guy out "painlessly" with a phone book, to give everyone else a break. I don't think they tried it, but I thought about this a lot, and when I got especially worked up about something, wound up or anxious, I would think "I wish someone would just knock me out painlessly with a phone book". Also Cool Breeze had an incredible story about living with his dad as a teenager and they were fixing the plumbing in the house, and had to put a hole through a wall to put a pipe through it, so they stacked phone books on the opposite side of the wall and shot through the wall, with a gun. That's insane, but shooting a hole in a book that's just numbers, that's incredible. Also think about how the pages are super thin but at some point one of them stops the bullet.

These are the romantic reasons relating to social and physical properties of the phone book, but the most regular reason we called the band Phone Book was because that's how we were writing most of the songs. Me and Jim both liked math rock, but neither of us wanted to commit to learning intricate patterns. So we used phone numbers, which we had already memorized, as the score. The phone number at the Go-Go started with 752, so we had a song with parts that were 7 beats, then 5 beats, then 2 beats, etc., and the instruments could do anything as long as they hit those beats. This led to the songs being really short, which I thought was funny, it was like a power violence version of Black Flag "Process of Weeding Out", or like a commercial jingle. Because of the nature of improvisation, most improvised music takes a long, stretched-out format, with musicians given the time and space to listen to each other and find their way in the moment. By limiting our output to these short blasts we absolved ourselves of the requirement to listen and respond, which heightened the connection between us.

But we had some longer songs too-- one was a "cover" of the opening music of Hammer Studio's "Horror Of Dracula", which we played as just a list of ponderous orch hits. Another was a game piece based on the music and performance of Chico Marx, where Jim and I each had our own passages where we would try to trick the other person into missing a beat or adding an extra one. At the end of this one ("Chico's Theme") it was possible to tally up the points on each side and see who won, though I don't remember there being any penalty. We also had a warm up song, no rules for that one except loosen up and then tighten up. And we did a few covers in our own way, I remember doing War Pigs, 1983: A Merman I Shall Turn To Be, and at MZ's insistence we learned Louie Louie (a staple among SST bands). Even though one of the purposes of this band was to move beyond language, I thought it best if the shorter "blast format" songs had words, I thought it would make them seem more real. I made a lyrics sheet and handed it out at gigs. I think Anton Bordman did this once, that's probably where I got the idea "lyric sheet at the gig".

This combination of structure and playfulness was really perfect for me. The structure really enabled the playfulness. We never got lost in the jam and I felt like we were playing well together from the first note of the first practice. This is one of the great parts of playing music, this feeling of being locked in step with someone, in the zone, and the feeling is even more extraordinary when the course is only lightly charted but you still stay in step. It's an ecstatic and almost spooky feeling.

We practiced at Collective a Go-Go, a big weird house at the edge of town. I had moved out by then but Jim was living there, and we had a practice room in the barn, just a tiny room where everything sounded great. Prac was always super super fun.

The Go Go was a really fascinating place and it attracted a few pretty different types of utopia-seekers-- classic Anarchists, collegiate radicals, non-profit career people, miscellaneous local weirdos. The demographic skewed young, but one of Jim's newer roommates was older than everyone else, kind of a flowing robes person, and she was really into Tantric spirituality, and kept trying to get the people at the house to watch this "modern approach to Tantra" DVD she got on the subject. No one was picking it up but one day after prac me and Jim, plus Mike Leslie, all piled into the TV room and watched it, in the spirit of "here's a funny trial for us to get through". It was pretty bogus but it ended up being a pretty important piece of thought tech, and I started thinking about the band as "a Tantric band". Thinking about steering into indulgence (in this case an Open Jam methodology) but keeping a clear mind about it, and using the tension between indulgence and austerity as an energy source. Also the tension between punks and hippies, using that. And the tension between new age music/ideas and free jazz. The Straight Edgers fought against indulgence and went towards Krishna Consciousness, Tantra seemed like a viable framework for noisers, who were less rigid but also had more tools at their disposal.

We didn't really roll with this in a heavy way-- I mean we didn't use Sanskrit in anything or wear robes like Shelter, no costumes or posturing, it was mostly just something I thought about. Slingshotting around the sun, using any available energy source. Also I want to reiterate that the source material we were drawing from was this preposterous DVD which was far from a true lineage, and which honestly seemed like people with no contact with music trying to emulate the experience of people who love music when they love music. The DVD talked about "skydancing", which is a "syllabus-free dance" that's just like, moshing for non-punks. It was sort of sad really, but it helped me to list my strengths- I love music, I like to get wild and I have opportunities to do so, I'm openly creative with others, I have ready access to the spirit realm, and I already did a lot of work towards recognizing and breaking from harmful societal convention. I'm with it. If you're interesting in learning more about Tantra, read a book, or better yet, read the wikipedia entry, then figure out if you want to read a book.


We played a small handful of shows, mostly in Worcester. Notable gigs include a ripper at the Hotel Vernon with Sword Heaven, Russian Tsarcasm, and the Rowdy Ones, and at the Yurt at Hampshire College with Jessica Rylan, Tarp, Prom Date / Fernando Diaz, and My White Tee (Matt Mondanile). This last show was embarrassing, as Jessica Rylan (dba "Can't") was my favorite musician for many years and this was the first time she ever saw me play. Also abstract guitar hero Bill Nace was there! Ay yi yi…

Our apex was a weekender with the Dungeoneers and Bone Zone.

reprinted from the blog:

April 2, 2007 6:56 pm

ok, so it wasn't a tour as such, it was two days of shows that we didn't go home during the inbetween of. but there was road food, there was hijinx, we made friends, we made enemies, we stole things, jeez, what more do you want from a tour? me and jim (phone book) made a bunch of merch, and he was right about how having an item with your band's name it really solidifies a band: thursday jim made a bunch of stenciled stuff, like sports bras, painter's jumpsuits, and size 60 men's underwear; friday night we recorded a tape (which i'll post mp3s of here soon, in the style); saturday morning i printed up some really crazy t-shirts- white with a funfetti background and a huge drawing of two duck-headed people having tantric sex. this last item i thought "now i am maybe going finally too far", but i fought the thought, and like almost every time i have that thought and fight it (and win), it went over like candy bars. i'm not trying to be joey hustle, but we ended up selling enough shit with these two shows to get grills, which was a floating-point point in our four-point plan (which includes in this order: get a really loud amp, put out a 7", and go on (a real) tour). ok, so how was the tour itself or the two shows or whatever it was? totally fun.

we planned to leave at "3:00" which was a great move because that meant actually leaving at like 5 and getting to white river junction at like 7. we took two cars, which worked out great. six people, two cars, three bands (two of the people were in two bands each). the show in white river junction was at the main street museum, which is a curiosities museum dedicated to "exploring the margins of alternative curation.". lots of weird artifacts both classically historical and ephemeral, all in nice cases. the town itself none of us could figure out- it seemed like everyone we saw was fairly well-to-do, but how their money came in no one could figure out. all the buildings were nice but there was almost no one on the streets, and when i say no one i mean the streets were poison-gas empty everywhere except the bingo hall. so with these things in mind, i have to say that the turnout was pretty decent. "tito and shark" opened up the night, featuring sam gas can wearing white pants white shoes and a white shirt (to match his ibook?), singing along but mostly just dancing to sample-based songs of his own creation. dungeoneers, phone book, and bone zone all played good. there was a really tiny stage that could only just barely fit the drums, which was cool. there were beers for everyone, people talked to us afterwards, we got some money for gas and what not, it was great. that night we slept over in the museum, which also ruled, as it is totally spooky with lots of taxidermy. at 8:00 in the morning MZ woke us all up playing an ethiopiques CD super loud. we packed up, walked to new hampshire for breakfast, then drove to brattleboro to try and find abby banks, opie, and king tuff.

opie turned out to be pretty hard to find, despite having a picture of him to show people, and as for abby and kt, we had no idea how to even start looking for them (beyond going to their houses, where they weren't), so instead we got a basketball from the car and went to find a hoop. in our aimless wandering we saw a castle high up on the mountain and decided to find it, so basketball in hand we bushwacked through the trees until we were there. i remember talking to jeremy years ago about zen and meditation and all that, and how could you have a path towards a goal that is pathlessness and goallessness?, and his reply was something to the effect of you start along the path but the path gets hazy or becomes pleasingly impossible to discern. anyway if you want to have a good gooning afternoon, i recommend getting a prop and trying to find a way to use it, and let yourself get distracted, but don't let yourself lose the prop.

anyway, having brought the basketball up the mountain, we waited at the castle until totally creeped-out kids showed up, then we asked them where a hoop was. of course, us being in the middle of the woods and them being kids, the directions were pretty vague, something like "follow the footprints until you get to a road, then it's that road", but it seemed sincere, and not "just go away". naturally the path through the woods diverged in a million ways, but having nowhere really to go, we didn't stress, and quickly found ourselves at, lo and behold, our destination- a basketball hoop (and not the one the kid tried to point us to, which we found later by accident and which wasn't really a basketball hoop). we shot hoops for a little while until we realized that we were all terrible at traditional basketball, at which point the game became shooting with style from midcourt and "getting it close". when this got old we went around the park getting the ball stuck in trees and then getting it out, and when we decided we should leave, we hucked the basketball in the direction we thought we should go, found it, hucked it, found it, hucked it, etc.. at around 3 we got back in the car and made our way to hampshire college in amherst, arriving a good 4 hours early for the show.

we hung out in the cafeteria for a good 2 hours eating a ton of food and trying to get people to go to the show, then met up with our contact (emma, the only phone book fan) and gooned around campus a bit before setting up. josh tumble cat was going to play with us, but he had to cancel, so emma got a local math rock band to fill in.

in addition to borrowing some of our gear (which is fine, but what's with arriving at a show expecting to borrow gear?), they took a really long time to set up, meaning lots of people getting aggravated waiting for the show to start (some of whom left), which combined with the fact that them and all their friends left as soon as they were done meant way less people around than if we had just all played first, which we should've done. the other thing about this band is that while they were playing we were really having a good time. we were dancing, we were having fun, we were positive movement, we were hyjinx, we were playing basketball, and i think they read this as a sign of disrespect. seriously, no harshing on the band, then or now- you were playing music, we were having music-enabled fun at no one's expense.

anyway, after they played, dungeoneers went on, with everyone shouting "dungeoneers!" at the end of every song, jamie waving a large bread knife in lieu of a sword, and their knight costumes all dirty and gross and authentic. phone book played in the middle, and i gave a little speech about tantra, "sky dancing", and positive movement, and how if you move a little bit, even just flexing your toes inside your shoes, you will appreciate live music better. kind of an apologia / explanation to the first band. anyway despite the fact that telling an audience to dance is an inexorable faux pas, it worked, and while we played those remaining went bananas. at one point in the set i looked up and people were forming a human pyramid! i was psyched. bone zone closed it down with a blistering set, hampered by the fact that the acoustics where we were playing (the dining hall) were less than perfect.

after the show we gave away tapes to anyone left, hung out a while while running out the momentum of our goof-off vibe, and headed home. We loaded out through the kitchen and Jim stole a 50lb bag of mozzerella. 2007 forever!

I guess that was the last show? I never got a loud enough amp and we never put out a 7". I think Jim actually did get grills with the merch money at Midtown Mall, but I might be imagineering that. I think about Phone Book all the time, it helped me develop a trust in myself, beyond my body and beyond my mind and beyond my self. Also it felt great to be in an incredibly fun band that had only 1 fan! I wrote a few weeks ago about the spiritual utility of playing music for people, it's also wonderful to play music just to play, just for the feeling of playing music. I hope everyone's staying wiggly out there. If anyone out there has a picture of the shirt, please send it to me!


Links / misc

  • "Unlock The Inner Flute", on Archive.org: [link]. This is the whole tape, but also included is another mix of the tape with the guitar in one speaker and the drums in the other, so you can learn the riffs and play along (ala the first Ramones LP).
  • opening sequence of Horror Of Dracula [youtube]
  • Chico Marx at the piano: from "The Big Store" [youtube], from "A Night At The Opera" [youtube]
  • Anton Bordman live in 2002. It warms my heart to see Melissa #1 and CF in the front row!!! [youtube]
  • Vampire Belt LP [youtube]
  • Vampire Belt live at the schoolhouse 2005 [youtube]
  • Horse Spirit Penetrates live [youtube]
  • Jessica Rylan "extraordinary" [youtube]
  • Bone Zone "Perching on the Beam" - I'm happy this crazy website is still up! [link]
  • Terribles "In Congrefs" - for the record, the Terribles also did the phone number trick, but I think we separately came to the same conclusion. Their record with Matt's mom's phone number embedded in one of the songs came out in 2008 but I believe was in the works for years. via greg's blog: [link]
  • Albert Ayler "Vibrations" - I listened to a lot of jazz music on the radio as a kid and came to think of it as just car music, then in my 20s I decided to seek out the weird stuff that I knew was in there, and the only way I could think to get started was to just start buying records. Luckily I went in alphabetical order! This is the first one I got, which blew the top of my head off. [youtube]
  • After A for Ayler I went to B and got an Anthony Braxton record. I think I got "For Alto" in the used CD section at Newbury Comics? Another huge record. Also a shocking use of the Cooper Black font! [youtube]
  • Cro Mags "Age of Quarrel" LP - not really a Krishna record but sort of an early point where SXE started getting influenced by Krishna consciousness. the title is a translation of Kali Yuga. [youtube]. Kali Yuga on wikipedia: [wp]
  • wikipedia "Syllabus-free Dance": [link]
  • Mattin-Bower "A New Form Of Beauty" (1975) [youtube]. Mattin's Theses on Noise (2006) lays it out nicely: "The old conception of Noise was to believe in freedom; the new conception of Noise is to achieve freedom. This is noise with a higher aim, this is noise as utopian ideal."
  • Wikipedia: Tantra - [wp]
  • Black Flag "Process of Weeding Out" [youtube]
  • Ornette Coleman "Free Jazz" [youtube]

Lemon Bag

What's up everyone how's your scene, I'm indoors right now just jamming, trying to keep my mentality up. Yesterday me and Mori put up a clothesline outside in the yard, plus twin clotheslines inside for intimate apparel- there's no laundry at the apartment so we're washing clothes in a bucket in the shower. It's too early to really say but I think it's working out?? Honestly the vibe with the new laundry way is "we should've been doing it like this since day 1", which is an unexpected feeling to be sure, but not unique at the moment-- other benevolent late grabs include starting the day with a meditation and a stretch, checking in with loved ones with less bullshit, and popcorn in lieu of chips when you just want something crunchy. To be fair, the laundry thing is bolstered by the security that we know where we're going to be tomorrow (in the apartment) and what our time availability is (pretty open). But it's reassuring to feel that some kludges and workarounds will turn out to be not only viable but preferrable. I mean this is a very limited frosting on what is certainly a tense and miserable donut-- I'm not "thankful for this opportunity", I'm just "trying to keep my mentality up".

Other projects around the house are like, taking time to enjoy food, watching some movies but not a lot, and pretty much any home innovation that might make things a little better for when(?) one of us eventually(?) gets sick. For that last point it's like, cleaning, de-cluttering, and declaration of zones. Declaration of zones is kind of a wartime-only event but the rest is, again, pretty reasonable. I read that losing your smell is an early marker that you have the novel corona, so I've been… not sniffing everything, but very sniff-aware. I washed the first klatch of socks the other night and they dried in the morning sun-- when a big whiff revealed no lingering odor I felt proud and then paranoid. I had to get a deep draught of coffee smell to know I'm holding steady. I'm not really scared you know, personally, but it's on my mind.

In a desire for warmth, comfort, and animal fulfillment, here's a reprint from Mothers News issues #39, it's a pancake recipe. This first pic is a scan of the piece of paper that's been on my fridge for at least 10 years. OK to copy this recipe in sharpie onto a piece of paper and then put it on your fridge. I've also prepared a print-ready version, that's here: [link]. All you need is that little bit, everything else is just finesse.


here it is

Ok, people always ask me so here it is, this is the good pancakes recipe. It's a vegan recipe, but if that freaks you out just pretend it isn't? It doesn't matter. Even my mom was fooled! I keep writing this down for other people so listen, just, here it is. It's right here.



The trick, as with any pancake recipe, is to not stir too much. You have to stir some, obviously, but if you get all the little chunks out (don't ask me why) the pancakes will be not as fluffy. If you are cooking with someone who "loves to stir", don't let them stir- I got burned this way one time...

Cook them however big you want them, that's not my problem, some like 'em one to a pan some like 'em three. Two per pan is a poor pour plan. Don't let the pan get too hot, but if you cook them at too low a flame, your crowd will get antsy and previous cakes will get cold before later cakes are ready. It's breakfast time and everyone wants to eat a nice hot breakfast. Remember "The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good".


If you're cooking for a kid, check this out: with the pan hot, write the first letter of the kid's name in batter, backwards. Let it cook for a little bit, then pour batter over it and cook as usual- the letter will be a little darker on the finished cake. You can get pretty good if you practice but don't get carried away or you'll Nero them. Which is to say, you'll burn them while fiddling. And if you're cooking for 2 kids don't do this at all! Because they'll fight over whose cake looks best, and who wants a fight at breakfast? Not me. Don't do this for adults either, it's corny. You know what? Just decide that you could do this if you want but at every instance, defer to "I'm not fucking around with that". Cakes are best appreciated at the stack level rather than at the cake level and besides that a big warm golden stack of cakes is a blessing and blessings are best left unattributed.

a better kid method


If you're with a kid, make a large cake with 2 big ears then let them draw a face on it (after it's cooked) with pieces of fruit. This also works with adults. It's ok to take a picture of it. In my mind this was a 1980s Bob Dylan album cover but in other parts of my mind i know- no it wasn't.

close to optimal buttering

for 3 fluffy pancakes in a regulation stack

  • Butter the top of the stack
  • Flip the top cake over
  • Butter the top of the stack
  • Flip the top 2 cakes
  • Butter the top of the stack
  • Syrup over everything

This buttering strategy was developed over years and years by this writer, after having viewed the movie "My Blue Heaven" in which Joan Cusack mentions that Rick Moranis has a system for eating pancakes whereby no pancake gets more or less butter than any other cake. No pancake scene was ever shown and after conferring with cast member Corey Carrier ( who was Rick Moranis's son in the movie, in addition to being young Nixon in "Nixon" and young Indiana Jones in "Young Indiana Jones") we learned that no pancake scene was ever shot or scripted. With the idea that a serviceable system was at hand, we mutated and assembled countless systems before deciding that this was the best, or perhaps 2nd best (1st best is probably don't really care).

precedents


17th century mathematician Pierre de Fermat used this same method of creation by hinting in his famous Last Theorem, which states that no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the equation a^n + b^n = c^n for any integer value of n greater than two. He implied, in the margin of a page, that he had solved this problem but the margin was too small to contain the proof. Then he peaced out, leaving generations of mathematicians to puzzle it, which they succeeded in doing a mere 358 years later, in 1995. In his marvelous story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", Jorge Luis Borges gives us the word "hrönir" for just such a situation: a lost object that is duplicated by the act of searching for it / believing in it. While hrönism has been successful in at least 2 major ways (listed), it is perhaps best suited for fairly trivial concerns, like pancake buttering protocols, mathematical formulae, and has anyone seen a US$20 bill that fell out of my pocket in the United States of America? $10 finders fee available. [2010 c/o Mothers News PO Box 29081 Providence RI 02909]

notwithstanding


All of that notwithstanding, let's call this the buttering protocol "the Jacob method" after the ladder of the same name, the ladder seen in a vision (by Jacob) that went from Heaven to Earth and back again, both ways at the same time, with angels on both sides of the steps, above and below. In this case the angels are represented by butter.

addendum: swedish pancakes


OK, here you go while we're on the subject- it's one cup of flour, one cup of milk, and one egg. It seems like you should put more stuff into the batter but: don't. You start with one cup of flour, then you dump a cup of milk, you dump an egg, and then you don't dump anything else. When preparing Swedish pancakes just remember this helpful mneumonic:

dump dump dont

Cook in a pan as big as the cakes you want, and when the pan is hot pour in juuuust enough batter to cover the bottom. i like to put butter and cinnamon sugar in them and then roll them up but you can eat anyway you want but i recommend rolling.

Use Swedish pancakes in savory dishes too- spicy lentils with yogurt why not. Eat with hands. If anyone queries your savory pancake style tell them it's "international". Don't say it's the Swedish way, because that would be dishonest, just say it's "international", which isn't even wrong. Remember my dude, who would wear a sufficiently international untucked shirt over khakis to any formal event, and no one had the guts to quiz him on it because no one knew if it was formal or not in whatever culture it came from. That way can can get over picking up any kind goopy food item with a pancake and calling it Christmas: "international". And who'd call it otherwise? The world is always turning after all.


Links

  • I'm sure everyone's got their relaxation youtubes. This isn't "relaxing" by any per se but it is relaxation-adjacent and anyway I like it: Tibetan Buddhist Chants of Namgyal Monastery [link]. I admit, I searched for this ("Tibetan music") a while ago based on a conversation with Jace Ewing about aliens, and how a purported CIA disinformation guy spread the rumor that grey aliens like "strawberry ice cream and Tibetan music". I mean I definitely like those things. I like this music and yes, I would travel to Earth for this. I mean I did, in a manner of speaking.
  • It was Ornette Coleman's birthday on the 9th and I juuuust missed the marathon birthday broadcast on WKCR(.org). I tuned in at 11:58, long enough to hear the transition from Ornette's birthday to Bix Beiderbecke's. The next day I went to Phil Schaap's website and listened to a couple hours of Ornette birthday broadcasts, which are archived there, along with marathon birthday broadcasts: [link]. There's a kind of crazy documentary about Ornette called "Made In America" that starts with him getting the key to the city of his hometown, Ft Worth Texas. Cut to him later that night, backstage at a black tie concert full of Ft Worth Who's Whos. Ornette pulls the band in close and says "Remember: we're gonna let out all the dogs tonight". Great energy.
  • I zoned out hard to this Bill Nace / Samara Lubelski vid: [link]
  • Keith Fullerton Whitman has been dropping everything in the back catalog into a streamable/downloadable format, including everything on Creel Pone, the bootleg CD-R label that he did pseudonymously even though it was fairly obvious. It's mostly what I would call "academic" synth music, or maybe "tape center" music. They're all good, I think, or they're all good enough that you could start anywhere not make a bad start. Here's a total weirdie from Pierre Henry: [link]

Tainted Alligator Soufflé

I'm in my house right now, been home for a couple days already and I plan on being home for at least another... week and a half? Two weeks? It feels weird not to be actively helpful in the thick of this (or in the very early stages of the thick of it) but I keep telling myself that staying in is actually very helpful at this point, and not just helpful but an essential practice.

I mean I feel OK but as we all know by this point you can feel OK and still have it, still transmit it. I don't want anything to happen to the parents of the people at the chips store (for instance) so I'll just not go out to get chips, I'll make popcorn at home. We all read the links. The larder right now could use a little more peanut butter but other than that I think we're good. I have decades of experience in trying to make a meal out of whatever's in the cupboard because I can't / don't want to leave the house. That's what's led to innovations like Peanut Butter Pasta, Grey Meal, Cheesus H Rice, Warrior Mode Coffee, and Tough Guy Stew. Actually Tough Guy Stew wasn't my invention, that was my old roommate Mike H's name for a dinner made mostly of foraged greens, dandelion roots, etc.. Let the record state that I ate 2 bowls and said "yum".

Not to make light of a bad situation but I think I function great under an absurd premise like "can't leave the house". I'm also great at "the floor is lava" or "I don't know how to drive" or "I'm not buying from Amazon" or "I hate to work" or Lent. Anyway I don't have a lot of great advice for how to live or be or help, I should hope that's fairly obvious. But anyway here's a little something I do to not go crazy when I'm in the house for days on end, that's certainly something I can speak to. I mean it feels kind of Decameron to just get weird indoors but that's where we're at, so we're doing it. The thing I like to do is

Maintain Flexibility

If you're home just sitting around, whether working from home or watching illegally downloaded nature documentaries (recommended), you gotta take breaks to do stretches. You can look up youtubes of stretches and do whatever feels good. I do toe touches, which has an added satisfaction of being something you can get better at. I do it while listening to a record, sometimes the same record I listened to yesterday (Ornette Coleman "Twins"). I couldn't really touch my toes for a while, but now I can, and now I'm touching my toes with different parts of the hand. It feels good to make progress on something like that, however silly. After toe touches/reaches I stand up and swing my arms around- with arms somewhat rigid I cross my arms in front of me and then swing them back to touch my hands behind my back. I do this 30 times. I always think of Cronenberg when I do this, because someone told me this is good for the lymphatic system, and Cronenberg is obsessed with the lymphatic system. Uhhh "think of Cronenberg" is not part of this set of instruction, sorry about that. Sakiko has stretches she does every day that are not related to body-horror auteurs, I'll link to those at the end.

Your eyes have muscles too, you gotta exercise those, especially if you spend most of your time looking at a flat panel less than 2 feet from your face. My eye exercises are: focus on something far away, then focus on something close, then repeat. Spend 30 seconds or so every whenever focusing your eyes on things at varying depths. Go to the window and do this. I used to have a mirror behind my computer monitor so I that when I zoned out I could bounce my view off the mirror and get more distance. If you do this I recommend positioning the mirror such that you can't see your reflection from your desk. You don't want that creep spying on you all the time.

The other eye thing is the same basically but open your eyes way up and, keeping your head still, look way to the left, then way to the right, over and over like 20 times. I read somewhere that doing this is also a creativity boost, because it forces interplay between the lobes of the brain or something. I'm not convinced on that but I do think it's helpful, and it also has the benefit of making you look like a maniac when you're doing it, which is cool.

Mental flexibility is important too but that's a whole other chapter. I guess for that I do pretty much the same thing though-- touching the mental toes, swinging the mental arms, rapidly shifting focus between the very near and very far, and generally trying to move what I haven't moved in a while.

FWIW I'm still drinking a lot of water and FWIW my Lenten declarations are still going strong throughout self-quarantine. I gave up reading more than 2 books at once, playing Dr Mario, and looking at the Instagram "explore" tab (which no one should ever do, honestly). I kind of wish I was dipping through books like I always do but at the same time I'm relishing the challenge.


Links

  • Sakiko had to cancel her shiatsu appointments so we made this website together yesterday that has some stretches for her clients. There's also a link to Japanese TV exercises, which are great, and which you can do even if you have limited mobility. [link].
  • I got re-obsessed with this online geometry game, although I almost tapped out at level 21. [link]
  • Speaking of mental agility, I've been watching and rewatching this Special Ed video, for "I Got It Made". Like anyone who just keeps saying stuff, he drops a couple gems and a few stone cold weirdies. I don't think you can just become good by being verbose but I do think a lot people do exactly this. Tom had a tweet about how painters need to stay painting long enough to have a t-shirt this destroyed: [picture of destroyed t-shirt]. I think he deleted it out of humility (?) but it's true I think. [link]

Glitch Roundup

Screengrabs of glitches, transcription errors, non-human solutions, unexpected results, scaling problems, interventions, spam, inadequate buffering, visible glue, placeholders, kludges, clogs, scratches, and drips. Most were wild-caught. Some are pretty old- spam styles long abandoned by spambots, old CAPTCHAs, styles of distortion that are not longer produced by playback machinery. The ones that aren't old will be old soon.







































































My Beautiful Little Notebook

I hope everyone forgives me for not writing about the election or a virus or the media or anything specific to this precise moment of being alive on earth and specifically the United States of America. In times of stress or when it's hard to get the head-heart-hand connection going, I fall back on record keeping. In this post I'm going to talk about one thing I use every day and keep records in, it's my beautiful little notebook.

If you've seen me IRL in the past couple years you've probably seen me bust this out and maybe I even pointed out some of its features to you but it's a little red notebook from MUJI, it's a B7 page size, meaning 125x88mm or about 5 x 3.5" inches. It's a pleasing ratio, 1:√2, which a great ratio for paper goods because it's self-replicating- a single sheet has the same ratio of long side to short side as a spread of 2 sheets or a stack of 4 sheets (2 spreads), or a singe page cut in half. I don't utilize this zooming ratio in any way whatsoever, but it is nice to think about. It fits in the front pocket of a shirt nicely, and in t-shirt weather it moves to the pants butt pocket. I'm sure it would port well to the front pocket of a hoodie, or a small bag. I keep a pen clipped to the cover, except in butt pocket season, when the pen moves to the front pocket. The pen varies.

At just 24 sheets (48 sides of a page) it's pretty slim, which I like-- smaller size is better security. If I should ever lose it I'm only losing 48 sides, not some massive tome. Besides if it were bigger it'd mess up the way my shirt hangs. I buy them in bulk and burn through them. There's a special shelf in my room for the finished books, of which there are currently fifteen, and the one I have now is almost kicked.

One side of the book is a sketchbook/notebook, although it isn't my main "drawing" sketchbook, it's just a little guy. I do draw in it though. Mostly it's for notes to self, things to remember, what I said I'd do, stuff like that. I also put notes for things that don't seem like they have a clear purpose-- things I overheard, funny turns of phrase, or that the price of a burrito went up (last week of February 2020, from $5.95 to $6.42). In January 2019 I walked past a blonde wig full of red clay on the sidewalk. Later in the month I had an idea for a crime drama TV show that's just 90210, every episode, but only showing what the parents are doing, and they're all doing crimes. These are all ideas and they all go in my little book. Similarly, some of the drawings in the book are just lines or blobs, which are still drawings even if they aren't drawings of anything. There is no distinction between notes and drawings, they both crowd the page at will.

I also put stickers in it, because I found I was collecting stickers without putting them anywhere, just keeping them on the sheet, which is bad energy. They're stickers and you gotta stick them somewhere. In addition to regular "autocollant" stickers that you might get at a sticker store, I include anything flat that has an adhesive side- price stickers, fruit stickers, bits of packaging, colorful tape, etc.. Sometimes I glue things in with a glue stick. If I'm around rubber stamps, I put some stamps in. One goal with the stickers is to keep things fun and lively, but the main goal is to make more readily accessible the wonderful and goal-less "I don't know what I'm doing but I'm doing this" energy, from which so much in my life seems to blossom and grow.

If you flip the book over when it's closed, keeping the spine on the left, and open it from that side, it's a calendar. I draw a 4x2 grid across 2 pages and note the days in red with stamps I got from Michael's (99 cents). There's an extra rectangle in the spread, which I find sometimes helpful, but its use is undeclared. When I set up a new book I draw out 4 weeks on the calendar, and then I draw in more as I need them. If I need to remember a date that's further in the future than my calendar allows I write it on the inside cover on the calendar side, and then add it to the calendar once that week appears. If I finish the book without getting to that date I add it to the upcoming dates list in the next one. No problem.

 

the goose stamp in non-photo blue just means "the day is over"

 

 

Both sides, the notebook side and the calendar side, march inexorably towards each other and eventually meet. Sometimes I have to X out a few pages in the middle so I can start a new book on a fresh week, that's not a big deal. If I find that I'm returning to the calendar side to add more and more weeks to a book, that tells me that I'm not putting things down as much as I should be. "Should" is a dangerous word but in this instance I'm referring to levels derived from my own perceptions of interior states. One book every 4-6 weeks is great-- if a book goes 10 weeks that generally means I'm not talking to enough people or incurring enough events, and these factors are often linked to unpleasant low energy states.

Sometimes in a conversation a topic will come up that I want to expand in an email later-- I'll write it in my book and then when I'm at my desk I'll go through my book, see the note, and email the person a note. Usually it's "here's a link to that thing we were talking about". Multiple times in the past month it's been "MASONNA LIVE VIDEO TO [name]". I know that it seems like you could just whip out your phone in an instant and share the link without leaving the conversation-space, but you really can't, and it's not worth trying. Once the phone comes out everyone goes into phone-mind, it's a drag. In a similar way I've taken to including links at the bottom of things-- it doesn't particularly "drive engagement" but I think it's nice.

In addition to not looking at the phone in the middle of a conversation, I'm also trying not to look at my phone in the bathroom, an attitude I have written about previously. In those moments I take out my little book and look through my notes, and regroup. Of course that's not etched in stone, I'm not a monster-- some times I read a book of poetry or whatever, some times I just look at the floor pattern. I also turn to the book when I'm bored or irritated or just plain waiting around anywhere, and find it again to be a great improvement over the phone. "Waiting for Shingo outside some shithole" was fun to write, and then later, to read, and if I had spent that time in the parking lot looking at other people's life broadcasts, it'd be a different equation. For the record Shingo was on time, I was early, and once he showed up we went somewhere else, somewhere nice.

The critical technology involved in both the notes side and the calendar side is that which allows me to open directly to a blank page without fussing. I've never seen anyone else do this, and to be honest I feel like this is maybe the single greatest thing I've ever invented. I cut a little section off the bottom corner of the cover, then when a page is done, I cut its corner to match, or fold it over and tear it. To open directly to a blank page I put my thumb on the corner, where it touches only the blank page, and open, and that's it. My other ideas have been fun, joyous, maybe whimsical, at times clever. Thinking about this makes me feel like I just invented the inclined plane, or the chocolate orange.

Since my book opens from both sides I do this on both sides, but I cut the angle different on the notebook side and the calendar side, so I can feel the difference immediately. The calendar side opens to the current week.

The calendar side has another innovation which is that I recently started putting these little stamps in them. Each stamp stands for a habit that I'm trying to acquire, or even more simply, a good thing I could be doing-- exercise, meditation, writing in my journal, etc.. When I do one of these things, I stamp the corresponding stamp on that day. I know I should be doing these things for their own reasons, but I find that the thing that draws me to do any one on any given day is that I want to put a stamp in my book. Some stamps are easier to get than others-- the one that's noodles stands for "stretching and vitamins". In my experience you have to have some easy ones to get started-- if I do my stretches and take my vitamins it draws forth the energy needed to tackle one of the other items, as a bucket draws forth water from a well.

On Sunday night I add up the stamps and write the number on the blank section. I've decided that the number can't go down week to week, it can only stay the same or go up. In this way I'm casually getting closer to doing all the things every day. I'm only a few weeks in with the stamps thing so I don't really have results per se, I'm still in the honeymoon phase. But the hope is that I'm on a slow soak for long term change.

When the book is done I put it on my little shelf and set up a new one. Set entails cutting the corners, drawing the calendar, and putting tape on the cover. The reason for the tape is it helps me differentiate between them whenever I need to refer back to an old one. The more immediate utility is that it lets me know which side is the front. I have three colors of tape that I use in sequence, with a trinary number system. The first book had a piece of green tape, the next one had purple, the next one white. The next one was green green, then green purple, green white, purple green, purple purple, purple white, etc.. I should've used more colors of tape-- I don't want to put more than 3 strips on and I'm already at green purple purple. Maybe after white white white I'll go buy different tape.

Another critical set-up is writing my name and address on the inside front cover, and lately I've been writing "if found, please return to:" just to drive the point home. I also include an email and a start date. Under the start date there's a space for an end date, which I fill in when I finish the book. I used to also keep a list in the front cover of which Kirby "Fourth World" books I need, but the ones I need now are so few that I haven't made any advancements in a while. Also they're so few that I can just remember without having to write it down. I also had a list of which Sun Ra records I had so I wouldn't accidentally get a duplicate, but now I have enough that copying them over doesn't really feel like a good use of my time and also those nice $12 bootlegs from a few years ago have dried up in the wake of official reissues (that are $20), so I'm getting them less frequently. FWIW all I need for the comic books is Jimmy Olsen 134, New Gods 2, Mr Miracle 4, and Forever People 1. I know this is unreasonable but I refuse to pay more than $4 per issue. I'm not in a rush, I can wait for these books to come to me. The only Sun Ra I'm really "looking for", with similar caveats to the Fourth World books, is Jazz In Silhouette.

Once a few books have collected on the shelf I scan them in to my computer. I keep the files in one big folder but name them all very consistently with the tape colorway and page number. Once the scanning is done I run a kustom one-liner in the folder, which generates a local html page with thumbnails of each page in order, and when you click on a thumbnail it shows you the full size image. It's a website but it doesn't go online, it just lives in the folder with the images, and I can open it up with a browser and see everything. This might all seem like an arduous task but it's really just a couple minutes' work to do a few books. For a variety of reasons I find it really helpful to be able to quickly visually search through all the books at once, and zoom in to a specific page immediately. And in addition to being practical, I find it very satisfying to behold an impossibly flat pile of goofball shit scrolling noiselessly out of the frame into infinity. I mark the spine of each book that I scan with a little dot of whiteout so I know that it's in the system, and put it back on the shelf.

None of my past little books are better than any others, it feels like a category error to even suggest the possibility. I don't look back on previous books as a snapshot in time that I long for-- every past book presents something I can use in the present or discard without judgement. I have other books where I take notes on specific topics, or ongoing projects, or just writing, or just drawing. My little book is in conversation with all of these other heavier books but stands alone, just a fun little helpful guy. It's just my little book!

NB: Most of the spreads here are from the inside cover / front page, where I tend to put the least writing and the majority of the stickers. I didn't feel comfortable publishing interior pages, or even thinking about what's a good page vs a less-good page. Similarly, if you see me with my little book, it's OK to say "there's your little book!" but I'm not going to hand it to you to go through. It's my little book. If anyone finds me please return me to me.


Links / misc

  • When I think of record keeping, this song by Sister Gertrude Morgan is not far behind. It's called "Let Us Make A Record" [link]
  • Here's that link to Masonna live that I sent everyone else. there's a lot of great live Masonna gigs on youtube right now, but this is the one I return to. Tom said: "it's a masterclass in tactics... he makes reverb, silence, voice, noise, wiggling, flopping, short set, precarious gear, and beautiful hair all look effortless. not everybody can do one or even two of these well". 3min 59s [link]
  • OK here's another one. 2min 31s [link]
  • I wrote about not using your phone in the bathroom when I had a gig writing weekly articles for The Outline. I probably got fired for being very nearly late 100% of the time or for just not fitting the vibe ("internet article"). But the straw that broke the camel's back was writing about not looking at the phone in the bathroom, which I didn't realize until later was against their business model. They chose not to run that one but it's here: [link]. All of them are listed here: [link]
  • The bathroom shelf right now is: the Satyricon by Petronius, the Masnavi by Rumi (translated and abridged by Whinfield), the last 2 issues of King Cat by John Porcellino, Catallus (super fun translation by Frank O Copley), and The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin by Idris Shah, which is extremely enjoyable. It's like a joke book about a guy and his donkey but every 5th one is a glittering jewel you can rotate in your mind endlessly. For Lent this year I gave up Reading More Than Two Books At Once, but reading poetry in the bathroom doesn't count.
  • here's my one-liner for making a local website from a folder of images. This is my default way of scanning through folders of images, though most of the time I use a quicker version that just loads the images full size. thumbnails version (takes a minute):

mkdir -p thumbs ; echo "<html>" > thumbs.html ; mogrify -sample x200 -path thumbs/ *.gif ; mogrify -sample x200 -path thumbs/ *.jpg ; mogrify -sample x200 -path thumbs/ *.JPG ; mogrify -sample x200 -path thumbs/ *.jpeg ; mogrify -sample x200 -path thumbs/ *.JPEG ; mogrify -sample x200 -path thumbs/ *.png ; ls | sed 's/^.*$/<a href\=\"&\"\><img src=\"thumbs\/&\" style=\"float:left\" title=\"&\"\>\<\/a\>\<p\><p>\n/g' | grep "\." | grep "\.html" -v >> thumbs.html ; echo "</html>" >> thumbs.html ; firefox thumbs.html

full size image version:

echo "<html>" > index.html ; ls | sed 's/^.*$/<img src=\"&\" style=\"float:left\;max\-height:700px;max\-width\:100\%\;\" title=\"&\"\>\<p\><p>\n/g' | grep "\." | grep "\.html" -v >> index.html ; echo "</html>" >> index.html ; firefox index.html

  • Sun Ra - Jazz in Silhouette [link]
  • If you want to trade stickers send me some of your extras and a SASE, and I'll send you some of my extras. Everybody with stickers has extras. Stickers for your band or project are nice to have but don't count, sorry!

Upcoming Events

  • This is going to make me seem truly notebook obsessed but I ordered 50 UNRULED composition notebooks online. It's a different book than my little book, this is just a composition notebook but the pages don't have lines, they're blank. Anytime I'm somewhere with composition notebooks I check to see if they're ruled or unruled, even though I've never seen or even hear of unruled, it just seems like something that should exist. I never thought to look online but I did the other day and lo and behold. Unfortunately the price break was at 50 so I got 50-- if you want some and live near Providence I'll have them at Analog Underground record store this Friday, they're $2 each. No shipping at this time-- locals only!
  • My new band "Strawberry Band" is playing our second show this Saturday the 7th, at the Lily Pad in Cambridge MA with Electric Street Queens and Kremlin Bats. It's $10 and starts at 10pm.

Scattered Apprentice

Got the sniffles and the other day I blew my nose so big and bad I thought "I wonder if that's the last one forever". Boogers don't work on the boss model though, you don't beat them you just get to the end of the level. It got me thinking there's a lot that doesn't work on the boss model.

🎃

I'm definitely getting older, we all are, but I'm still making measurable progress on things I thought I was done getting better at, without really trying. I'm better at making omelettes, I can touch my toes with my pinky when I stretch, and I'm getting great at finding tiny little screws that roll off a desk. The trick is to not try to catch it or see it fall, just stay completely still and listen to it fall, bounce, and settle somewhere. That's the trick to the screws. The trick to getting better at stretching is just to stretch daily or more. The trick to the omelette is to move the omelette to a different part of the pan after the first flip, it makes it fluffier. The eggs thing is harder to explain, bordering on finesse.

🎃

Earlier in the week I was listening to Sun Ra "Somebody else's idea / of somebody else's world / is not my idea / of things as they are". Then that was caught in my head all day. Sun Ra used catchiness and repetition to get a good message in your head, I can't really think of a lot of other bands that do this. Flipper did it, with "Life Is The Only Thing Worth Living For", and Coltrane did it with "A Love Supreme", but with Coltrane it's more mantra than message, and anyway each of these bands only did it once each, not as a model. Lots of bands use catchiness for no reason-- I have a lot of respect for bands that use it for good.

🎃

I went to Walgreens to get a Milky Way Dark, because I was celebrating getting nice mail. It was like 2pm on a Tuesday and the cashier had perfect cat's eye eye makeup and her nametag said "BEAUTIFUL DAWN". The same Walgreens has a night manager named "HEAVEN"-- I was there a few weeks ago getting chocolate ice cream and she got called to the front for a refund or something. I stuck around to make sure I didn't mishear a Kevin, Bevin, Devin, Nevin, or Tevin. I didn't.

🎃

They're moving the highway or something near my house, and it's been shaking my house every weekday from 7am to 2:30pm for weeks. It's maddening to be in the house but it's fun to walk by it. The other day they had one of those big excavators on top of a big cliff and it was just picking up dirt and releasing it over the edge, the way you might drop food nuggets on a koi pond. When I went home I looked up "excavator skills" on youtube, no regrets there. Dan S told me that he had a job running an excavator one crazy summer, and he fell asleep inside it with his hand on the joystick, pressing "spin". The big arm was whipping around in a big circle that might've killed anyone that tried to go wake him up, and the motor was too loud to shout over, so they just waited him out. Really beautiful!

🎃

I started a new ball of string, for those bits of string that seem too big to throw away but too small to form into a solo ball. I love seeing the layers and variety of string pile up, and I love to think "it's all one string". Sometimes I think about unraveling it and making a history- this was string I used to make a friendship bracelet, this was fishing wire I used for a project, this jute was just kicking around the car, this is something that I don't know what it is.... I'm never gonna do this, only think about it. I'm also never going to soak it in epoxy and slice it in half and look at all the string ends as a bunch of closely packed 2-dimensional dots, but I'm going to continue to think about that too. The last time I made a string ball it was all 1 kind of string and the ball was huge. But I found that as the ball got really big the growth rate slowed tremendously, as I needed more and more string to impact the diameter of the ball. It didn't call to me as much. This time I'm thinking once it gets to a certain size I'll just start a new ball. I mean, shit baby why not?


Links

  • Sun Ra - "Somebody Else's Idea" [link]
  • here's a video I made back in September, it's an ice skating routine from the 2019 US Nationals, but I changed the music to Flipper. There's a fad in ice skating to set your music to slow gritty covers of pop music, of the same sort you hear in movie previews, and I thought, why not go with a slow gritty original? I didn't do anything other than switch out the music and somehow everything matches up. I mean I'm biased but I think this is truly uplifting. [link]

Upcoming Events

  • Strawberry Band is playing another show, March 7 at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, with Electric Street Queens and Kremlin Bats. 10pm $10
  • My sticker duplicates pile is getting too big and at the same time I need a greater variety of stickers to post in my beloved book. If you want to trade stickers please send a SASE to the address listed in the picture and I'll send you back however many stickers you send me. Providence locals swing by Analog Underground on Fridays, that's my day.

Scene Report: Sci Fi Movie Marathon 2020

Let the record state that I'm writing this on Monday February 17 at 5:58pm, I just woke up after sleeping since 2pm after being up more or less since 5am Sunday at the 24 hour Sci Fi movie marathon ("the Thon"). I just ate some miso soup, I'm drinking coffee. Forgive me if I'm especially loopy today.


  • Frain showed up at my house at 6am to drive me and Mori to Boston. The Thon starts at noon, but the doors open between 10 and 11, and we like to get their early to get good seats.
  • The Thon has a highly developed line culture, with people showing up as early as the day before. What's interesting about the line is that everyone's lining up for a slightly different thing, with very little competition. Generally speaking anyone in line early has a spot that they like to sit in, which isn't a spot that anyone else wants or is trying to get. The woman behind us got in line around 7 and wanted to get her preferred seat somewhere in the middle of the second-to-last row. She couldn't believe that anyone would want to sit in the front row, which is where me and my crew sit. Generally speaking people get in line early to prolong the challenge, camaraderie, and spirit of the marathon. My favorite line guy is this wild dude that doesn't sit down the entire time, just stands in the back for every movie. He gets in line at 5am and then doesn't even get a seat!
  • Doors opened at around 10:30 and we filed in and got our seats squared away. I got my preferred seat, in the middle of the second row, behind Dan Wars and in between Sakiko and Dirty Doug. This year marked the 10th anniversary of our crew, the Dick Miller Fan Club. I made buttons featuring beloved character actor Dick Miller, and passed them out to the crew, which I think was 20 people this year. Jesse Wonderful joined the crew this year, I hope he had a good time and comes back next year. Tumblecat couldn't make it this year, he was greatly missed. Next year, Tumblecat!
  • The first movie of the Thon starts at noon each year but around 11 they start with an "in memorium" section, a slide show with video clips celebrating movie people with a connection to Sci Fi who passed away this year. You only need 1 science fiction credit to make the cut- Rip Torn made it this year via "Men In Black". When it's someone you especially like you clap extra hard. For the most part it's pretty reverant-- I can't think of anyone really getting booed, except for when Harlan Ellison died, and to be honest I can't tell you how many people were even booing, because I was being really loud.
  • 12:00pm Miracle Mile (1989) - a great 80s nuclear paranoia movie starring Anthony Edwards, the cutest nerd from Revenge of the Nerds, sort of an apocalyptic version of After Hours. Denise "Tasha Yar" Crosby co-stars along with a long list of character actors. Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream
  • 1:50pm Fiend Without A Face (1958) - fun 50s movie about an invisible killer that ramps up to a suprisingly gory conclusion, when the killer becomes visible in the form of hundreds of pale floating brains with whip-like tentacles. I imagine a 1958 audience of mostly children screamed and screamed in absloute delight when each of these brains gushes strawberry jam and cottage cheese when hit by an ax. In 2020 I also screamed and screamed with delight.
  • 3:25pm Spaceballs (1987) - "Mel Brooks Star Wars riff" should tell you all you need to know, for good or ill. Mel Brooks breaks the fourth wall exactly the perfect amount, that's maybe his greatest finesse. Released the same year as David Lynch's "the Elephant Man", which was also produced by Mel Brooks.
  • 5:10pm Mysterious Island (1961) - great Ray Harryhausen movie. set for almost no reason during the time of the American Civil War. I think setting a special effects movie in a different time period really eases you into believing a fantastic scenario. Anyway I loved it. Magnificent Herbert Lom plays Captain Nemo. Score by Bernard Herrman.
  • Following the movie there was a Q+A with Harryhausen's daughter, Vanessa, which was great.
  • 7:15pm Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde (1920) - silent version, with John Barrymore. Lot of magnificent leering. For the past couple years of the Thon there's been a silent movie with live accompaniment, and the guy that does the accompaniment, Jeff Rapsis, is incredible. It took me a little bit to figure out how he does it but I think he programs a keyboard to play different sounds depending on how hard he hits the keys- if he just barely touches it the sound is a soft violin, if he slams it there's a tympani, and inbetween there's a celeste, an orch hit, and I don't know what else. An elegant set up and the dude slays. Standing ovation.
  • Even tho I love the keyboard guy I went out and got a burrito in the first part of Jeckyll and Hyde. I always get suckered into paying more by not realizing that guacamole is $1.25 extra. Why is guacamole the only ingredient like this?? It makes no sense. I stopped going to this one place near the theatre because they do that, and the new place, they do it to. The new place also has that modern city restaurant look where every surface is covered by a tiled photograph of a weather-beaten surface. It's like being in a video game, futuristic by virtue of being an over-approximation of the past.
  • 9:15pm Altered States (1980) - I never liked William Hurt because of the way his dull character treats Geena Davis' manic pixie character in Accidental Tourist, and this movie presents a much sharper edge to that narcissism, or maybe an active narcissism vs a passive one, the sharp part of the knife vs the flat part. That said, the movie is bonkers and I really enjoyed it. Ken Russell directs. Loosely based on the life of psychonaut John Lilly, who told OMNI Magazine that this movie "did a good job". The main character wakes up nude in a zoo, that's a great bit. American Werewolf In London, Cat People, are there other movies that do this? ISO zoo nudes
  • 11:10pm The Fly (1986) - Great movie with lots of extremely gross parts, including a sequence where the titular fly pukes acid on a yuppie scumbag's clenched fist, dissoving it into wax. Geena Davis co-stars, with cameo by Cronenberg as the doctor in a dream sequence. Extremely good (if you like body horror) and like all good movies (Sakiko's theory) it has a feeling of lightness throughout.
  • 12:55am Midnight Special (2016) - messianic kid / family on the run storyline that goes totally nowhere. The big reveal is that there's a race of angel beings living in a reality layer superimposed on Earth, and that they did what we could not-- realize utopic 1960s architecture where walkways and greenspace connect multipurpose buildings that respond intelligently to weather conditions. Nothing else about these angels is revealed or inferred and no one in the movie has any sort of character whatsoever.
  • 3:00am Seconds (1966) - OK, I fell asleep a little bit for this one but it's about being a fucking baby and instead of trying to change your life in a way in keeping with your interests and desires you pay a God-like service to fake your death, surgically transform you into Rock Hudson, and set you up with a new life as a swinging bachelor, a life which sucks because you've been given a fish, rather than taught to fish. I should hope that anyone watching this would come away with the twin revelations of don't fake your death and don't be a baby. The camera swings around all the time and zooms in a little too much, sort of a drunken master feeling. I liked it.
  • As I'm watching these movies, I'm separating them into "Jeanne likes this" and "Jeanne hates this", based on this absurd preference that Jeanne has for opening movie credits that stand alone as a sort of overture before any action takes place. Any movie where the credits roll over dialogue, Jeanne hates that. Seconds had a cool credit sequence by legendary graphic designer and credits artiste Saul Bass, we all liked it. As with last year's Thon, Jeanne was over-scheduled and had to leave the theatre for 2 or 3 movies for a wrestling promotion she was booked for. I assume she won but didn't ask.
  • 5:00am Die Monster Die! (1965) - Boris Karloff adaptation of Lovecraft's "Colour Out Of Space" that I dipped in and out of consciousness for.
  • 6:30am Tarantula (1955) - John Agar movie which I wilfully slept through because something had to give. Namechecked in the Rocky Horror theme song, so I feel like I have to see it at some point.
  • 8:00am Fast Color (2018) - in a movie where someone has a special power, there's an unexamined moment where you have to decide "how serious is this in this world". Like how in Superman world he can fly but life goes on, but in our world we go bananas when someone can improve a record by like .00000001%. Anyway this movie was great because the main characters have what they describe as "a parlour trick" that later they realize is actually mega huge. Like a lot of independent sci fi movies, this takes place largely on a bleak road or midwestern ranch-style home, somewhere you can film for free without seeing other signs or structures that would mess up your shot. I thought it was good.
  • 10:15am Soylent Green (1973) - Charleton Heston sci fi movie, which, like Planet of the Apes (1968) hangs a satisfying weight on a Twilight Zone style late reveal, and which unfortunately is yelled by Charleton Heston in a way that's fun to imitate, preventing anyone from ever seeing this movie without knowing the end. That said, I had never seen this before, there were some cool parts, some parts that were a huge bummer. I'm sure not everyone had this takeaway but it was one of those dystopian movies that made me really want to go out and enjoy the natural world and also treat people with respect and dignity. I left the theatre recommitted to investing in a future that doesn't grind people up and coerce others to literally ingest them. This movie is set in 2022, and this makes me feel crazy to admit but the thing about the storyline that came true the least is that the US adopted the metric system.
  • The big theme this year was what I would call "the interior Other"- Fiend Without A Face, Jeckyll & Hyde, Altered States, the Fly, and Seconds all presented movies where an identity layer gets peeled back to ostensibly reveal a more primeval self, which is still just baggage. My favorite moment in all of these was at the end of Altered States when William Hurt was talking to his long-suffering wife in minor apologia and said that he had been seeking an ultimate truth but now he feels like there is no ultimate truth, and a woman in the back of the crowd shouted in true frustration "YEAH, NO SHIT".
  • Other echoes in the sequence:
    • two movies produced by Mel Brooks (the Fly and Spaceballs)
    • two John Agar movies (Miracle Mile and Tarantula)
    • two Massive tarantula sequences (Tarantula and Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde)
    • two Dick Van Patten movies (Spaceballs and Soylent Green)
    • two Barrymores (John in Jeckyll & Hyde, and Drew, who made her debut in Altered States)
  • Spending a long time just watching things and not interacting with things really messes with your mind, and by a few movies in people are talking back to the movie a lot more. Mystery Science Theatre and the aforementioned Rocky Horror Picture Show normalized this sort of behavior for science fiction movies, and sometimes, when you have a good crew, it's good. This year there were a lot of people just saying what's on their mind in the most basic cliche way. I think usually that's the sort of thing that drives me nuts, this time I just got to thinking that you really do need to resist psychic death. I'd rather have someone treat a text critically than just marinate in it.
  • The Thon has been going for 45 years now and some in-jokes pervade. There are some that I don't know the origins of, like when someone's name is "Mark" and everyone goes "Mark???? Mark????" like they're looking for their friend Mark somewhere in the theatre. Some I do know, like yelling "Close the door!" which was a recurring line in "First Men In The Moon" (1964), which showed at the Thon back in 2014. I would call "Mark" a benevolent riff because it's both cute and rare, and "door" a malevolent riff because it's common and you say it in an angry way and also it makes you realize how no one in a movie ever closes a damn door, they just leave it open after they waltz right in, it's infuriating. Maybe another way to define benevolent vs malevolent riffs is that a benevolent riff activates a situation, whereas a malevolent riff reminds you that you had fun once, overwriting the present with the past. Other benevolent riffs include clapping along to each punch in a fight (for slugfests only), clapping exactly once for each name visible on screen during the credits, counting down with any countdown, and hissing at creeps.

Mnemonics / Dr Mario

If you asked me what I've been up to lately, I'd tell you straight up the honest answer: I've been cleaning my room. It feels like this is all I do lately but it's ok because I love my room, even though it drives me crazy. I have a lot of projects part-assembled, pieces of nascent projects, toys, jums, scraps of paper. Sometimes it's too much, I feel like I can't get started, and I go and play Dr Mario on the couch. Sometimes I just jump into my room and roll around in great ideas like Scrooge McDuck. It's great.

The mechanic of Dr Mario is that you have a huge mess and there's more garbage slowly raining down on you, and you stack the new garbage on the old mess and when four or more similarly-colored garbage/mess items are colinear in a resting state, the timeline freezes for a split second, and the items disappear, or become transmuted into points. When the game is going fast this brief hiccup is very valuable in giving you time to collect your thoughts-- regularly accomplishing small tasks is a good way to avoid burnout. When the original mess is clear, regardless of how much new garbage is onscreen, the level ends, and an evil virus appears onscreen to say congratulations.

It's fun, and I can feel myself getting better at it, which is gratifying. The main way to get better is to remain calm during panicky moments, which is a magnificent skill to cultivate. Also it presents a workable dynamic for cleaning a room, or at least a framework for dopamine release-- I get a drip when I group like items.

A big part of my mess is "materials with potential" (bricolage problems), and I find that Dr Mario provides an interesting classification system for "what is my relationship to this possible piece of a possible project"-- is this the original mess I was trying to clear, or is this just some garbage that fell on me? This doesn't substantially change the workflow-- fallen garbage that rests on original mess still needs to be cleared to get to the important stuff, and it's to your advantage to clear often, if only to put your mind at ease. But it's nice to think that only the good stuff really matters, and if you get to the last of the good stuff and there's still shit everywhere, you don't have to worry about it. You're absolved from care.


In the interest of grouping like objects and clearing them, here's a cull from the archives. It's a pattern I have enough of that it seems like a collection, I'm posting it here and now I've done something with it! The connection to Dr Mario is... uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............ creating useful structures even if they are stupid or temporary. 🙂

Mnemonic Devices

Periodically over the past couple years on Twitter I put out a call for mnemonic devices. If you had trouble remembering something, I would come up with a way to tie it together in memory. Most of these were made on the fly and by request, I can only hope they helped the person who asked. Some of these I made up for me (which one is Bill Paxton, which one is Bill Pullman). It's fun making these! If you need a mnemonic device for something you're having a hard time remembering, please leave a comment in the guestbook. I would love to keep adding to this list.

  • trick to remembering 6 x 9 = 54 : 6 9 (sexual act) at Studio 54 (disco club)
  • difference between discreet and discrete : when you're being discreet you're sort of being a creep
  • difference between vein and vain (for Caity) : if you're vAIN youre Always looking IN a mirror
  • palate / pallet / pallette (for Robert Beatty) : you look at a PALATE to see what you ATE, you put ALL the boxes on a PALLET, a PALETTE is a painter's little pal (PAL-ETTE)
  • miles to kilometers (for Lizzy) : point six two miles is one kilometer / stick to miles on a US speedometer
  • which one is Don Henly and which one is Don McLean : American pie & McLean both available in McDonalds / hen and eagle are both birds
  • meaning, spelling, and "a reminder that it exists" for the word "poignant" (for Dan S) : "poignant" is the sadness I feel when I behold a po' ignant fool (in the mirror)
  • president order-- its Garfield-Arthur but then is it Cleveland-Harrison -Cleveland--before McKinley? (for 322chris64) : it's a Harrison sandwich on Cleveland bread, shot of McKinley on the side
  • daylight savings, (for Jeff S, who rejects "spring forward fall back" as you could easily spring back or fall forward) : March forgets what November remembers
  • trick to remembering 7 x 8 = 56 : 56 = 7 x 8 (5 6 7 8)
  • effect vs affect (for Lance) : an affect produces an effect-- Ben Affleck produced the hit movie FX
  • movie music-- which is diagetic, which is nondiagetic (for James KF) : a movie is like a diary. music described in the diary is diagetic. music playing while you read is just music.
  • concave vs. convex (for Steven) : a concave surface makes a little cave you can hang out in
  • ontology vs epistemology (for Ian) : ontology is about being, like being ON this planet / epistemology is about knowledge: "is this pistol loaded" being a good example. This is probably too big a topic for a mnemonic device but I tried!
  • (original) definition of "nonplussed" : we were nonplussed by nonpareils- if nonpareils have sprinkles, what do pareils have? Please note that at this point in time the meaning of "nonplussed" has expanded. In addition to the original meaning of "bewildered", it now also means what everyone thinks it means-- "unimpressed". If you're reading it in a book it's probably "bewildered". if you hear someone say it, it's probably "unimpressed".
  • meaning of "gingerly", for Harold, who kept confusing it with its antonym : try saying "a pinch of ginger" instead of "a pinch of salt" to mean "information to be used with caution". Ginger aids digestion so it's a little better for the metaphor anyway.
  • which one is Bill Paxton, which one is Bill Pullman : Bill Pullman's just pulling your leg (Spaceballs). Bill Paxton packs a punch (Aliens)

links

  • Play Dr Mario online: [link]
  • This "list of mind tricks" is very much in debt to Ulillillia, who maintained a legendary website of dreams, fears, video games, and mind tricks, for many years. And most surprisingly, he made progress on all these things! Archived version of Ulillillia city here: [link]. Video about him here: [link].
  • Always Be Knolling - a video from Tom Sachs and Van Neistat about grouping like objects in studio: [link]. This is an excerpt from a longer video, the whole thing is good and worth looking for.

Put Me In A Movie

If you ever watch movies with the subtitles on, try this trick- do a search and replace in the movie's subtitles file (.srt) for a main characters name, switching their name with the name of whoever you're watching the movie with. The subtitle file's just a regular text file, you can do whatever you want with it.

sed 's/Brian/Sakiko/g' -i *.srt;
sed 's/BRIAN/SAKIKO/g' -i *.srt

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Adapt this script for any character / any person in the room. If you're not comfortable using command line tools, just open up the srt file in a text editor and do a regular old search and replace. Try not to let them catch you doing this.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

If you're watching a movie in a foreign language this works great/flawless, Because what you're hearing and what you're reading is untethered. If you're watching it in English with English subtitles it works out kind of eerie-- it doesn't fool the mind into false hearing, but your brain sort of leans into it. I mean even though you're hearing and reading different things, your brain really wants them to match, and I think the writing has a slight advantage. I would defer to a scientist in a relevant field here, but I think that your brain really does take the written word with more authority than the spoken word. But then again, I would imagine that your brain has a hardwired predilection to recognize its own name, or the names of other loved ones in the room, so it'll probably fudge things in that direction when possible. Anyway these aren't laboratory findings, I'm just having fun.

Return of the Jedi (1983)
Lost Boys (1987)

I have a lot of opportunity to do this because my main movie-watching partner has a slightly easier time catching everything in an English movie with the subtitles on, so that's what we do. But I do this pretty much any time I watch a movie now. One time I was feeling sad and did the switch with Kiki's delivery service, it really boosted my spirits.

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Like I said, it's best if you do it sneaky so no one knows what's going on until they find themselves in the movie. But if the riff is established already then it's ok to call out before the movie starts which character you want to be. Also you can be like "make Kelley be Kevin's shitty brother". But I think you shouldn't be allowed to both nominate yourself to be a cool guy and someone else be a shitty guy, you should only be allowed one call. Also whoever's at the computer, they can just invert your call like "what'd you say Frank? You want to be Kevin's shitty brother? OK". That's valid.

Home Alone (1990)
Jurassic Park (1993)

If you're watching with a bunch of people it's good to try and get everyone in the room into the movie somehow. My feeling is that it's OK to cast someone that isn't in the room, but not as a villain-- only as the main character.

Home Alone (1990)

If you end up doing this trick a lot, I think it's important that you not just make yourself the hero all the time. It's a valuable experience to emphasize with the villain of the story, and that experience is not lessened if you use software tools to help you get there. Besides, playing the villain is more fun.

Ghostbusters II (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1984)

Bear in mind you can change more than just the names. When we watched Jurassic Park last year I switched out "dinosaur" with "fuckin dinosaur" to give it a little more oomph. I imagine you can overdo this pretty easily, but with judicious use it's like any other spice-- it adds flavors and also reveals flavors that are present already. Also, like spices, it increases your engagement with the artwork via a customizable layer.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Oh yeah, and this is like a "party movie" trick, for loudish funnish movies and/or groups of people for whom the movie is a rewatch. Cinema heads are advised to watch a movie as it is intended. 2019's greatest rewatch was North Shore (1987), which I watched probably 5 times this year. Thank you Darnell for recommending this delightful movie that has nothing wrong with it.

North Shore (1987)
North Shore (1987)

Technical Specs

Please note this will not work with streaming services. I still just download stuff, because I'm extremely cheap and also because I'm a very moral person and I just don't think that downloading movies is morally wrong. Why do you guys do all the streaming stuff? I don't see the benefit. If the download doesn't have subtitles I get them from a subtitle website. Some video formats (.mkv) can have a subtitle file rolled into the video in a way that makes it hard to access, in which case I download another subtitle and load that one instead. The whole setup works great, totally no problem.

I keep the movies I might want to rewatch on a 1tb drive (~$40 new, I got it free when a friend upgraded). This replaced the milkcrate of DVDs I used to have, which replaced the 2 milkcrates of VHSes I used to have.


Other Movie Tips

  • We got a digital projector to watch movies on and it's great, we just project the movie on the wall. With the projector you never walk in the room and see the TV just sitting there, which means you end up thinking less often that dangerzone thought: "I can just watch a little TV". Also the digital projector makes the unseemly act of watching movies during the day basically impossible.
  • snacks
    • Put your snacks in a bowl, you'll enjoy them more. Also if it's a quiet movie, a bowl is less noisy than a bag.
    • If there's a lot of people then everyone gets a bowl. Less commotion that way.
    • Go ahead and mix all the snacks together.
    • I know this is corny but if you're drinking beer watching the movie and the guy in the movie drinks a beer, you gotta "drink with the guy".
  • I reached out to Tom of "Bubul and Harms at the movies" for movie-watching tips: "I have so much to say abt this but my main, fairly widely applicable, apolitical, non-power user thing wd be, "watch a movie while taking a bath" = I do this all the time & it rules"

Gig Report: Strawberry Band

Damn, my new band had a show the other night and it was extremely fun! No idea who's reading this and what are your powers to engage in this quest but if you have the opportunity to play music with other people I strongly recommend it. Music is great, even when it's difficult, requires work, or requires a level of emotional openness that you might consider embarrassing. Somehow playing music helps you, and when other people hear it, that helps them too, and you see it helping them, and that helps you in a different way, it's really something else. You can't eat it, and it won't keep the rain off your head, but music helps you out, somehow. Music is this planet's greatest export, and in fact, Earth is the only planet we know of with music on it! I think that's something we can all be proud of. Anyway, the gig was great.

Everyone's experience is going to be different and your mileage may vary, but for me, the apex venue for loud energetic music is the basement or small bar. As both a performer and a concertgoer, I find that both of these spaces are more fun than a larger club. There's an intimacy that grants a performer a greater ability to affect the crowd-- if you're dancing they'll be way more likely to dance. And if people dance, or move in any way at all, the music will affect them more. Also the sound is oftentimes better, by virtue of being a smaller, less-echoey space. And a small crowd fills the room, which is ideal, and in my experience is not only valuable for the psychological feeling of being at a packed show, but because it again leads to a greater likelihood for ecstatic dancing. It's easier to disappear yourself in a fairly thick crowd than one that's more spaced-out, and disappearing into sound is a key aspect of ecstatic dance. Sometimes the band's gotta go in for a bigger location or a different set up, and different genres have different requirements, I hope that's obvious. I felt that this particular gig was perfectly tuned to weird bar.

The night was lovely, it was Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year Of The Rat. A great night for a punk show! The crowd was great, and all the bands were dynamite. The show started very close to on time and it seemed like a fair amount of people got there early just to hang out! I guess you can do that at a bar. If you get to a basement show too early it can be awkward, but if you go to a show at a bar early then you're just... hanging out at a bar with the bands.

Of course I always get the jitters before a show, we all do. This time around Dan Wars brought a bag of balloons and we sat around blowing them up and filling the room with them. It was nice to have a physical task to do, and when the first people showed up we roped them in to help us out. I liked having the balloons on the floor, it made the floor seem a little drunk. Also I feel like decorating a little bit demonstrates a good intent. It shows care and creates a feeling of specialness. Next time if we do "balloon joke" as our party task (big if) I'm going to not blow them up so much, so maybe they'll pop less often. As it was they were popping at intervals just far enough apart that you'd scream, then forget about it, then get fully shocked anew at the next one. The popping was an unfortunate consequence. I'm not trying to PTSD anyone out there, just trying to "make the floor seem drunk". Sorry for all the popping.

Once the show started it flew by. Alpha Error, RONG, Funeral Cone, all great. Alpha Error has matching outfits, a color scheme, a banner, AND their own lighting ANNND they were good!!! Ay yi yi. RONG played a locked-in herky jerky noise rock, but with Thin Lizzy twin guitars, that's incredible. Funeral Cone was good as always, they're dripping out the new ones, and I'm happy that DW's pivoting from talking between songs about how much he hates the Beatles to how much he loves the Bay City Rollers. I don't mega agree with either statement but in both cases I can see where he's coming from. I felt like our set went great, a mix of Jacob The Terrible songs and some newish ones, plus a cover of a Cool Breeze song and cover of "Linda Linda" by the Blue Hearts. I'm happy to report that "Linda Linda" went over just like in the movie, and also that there were 2 people in the room that could understand the Japanese lyrics and they went absolutely bananas.

I saw a few pics of the set but mostly they're a wash, because the person taking the pic was pogoing too hard (top pic), or they were trying to take a video but couldn't stop themselves from singing along. Honestly that's pretty ideal! Any picture of me that's in focus is an insult to my vibrancy!


It's been a while since the last band name I was 100% enthusiastic about and wanted to write on things, maybe the last one was "Puzzled Panther" (c 2004). This band is called "Strawberry Band", absolutely delightful. Naming a band can be extremely arduous, and to be honest this task has either set back or completely derailed more than one music project I've been involved in. For years I was a solo musician, and choosing a name as a solo act is very difficult, there's no one to bounce ideas off of. For solo stuff I flitted around between a few names, never lasting long, or just used my regular human name, a default solution that I found inelegant, bordering on vulgar. It was a blessing to float out the name "Strawberry Band" on the group chat and get a resounding "sounds good". It's me, MZ, Uncontrollable Frank, and Cory.

The difficulty in a name is that you want it to sound cool but also be odd enough to result in productive shadowplay over a long period of time. I've already got a lot of great strawberry riffs on deck, and I'm sure there's more to find (the name "strawberry" comes from "strewn berry" for the way the berries are scattered at the base of the plant). And even if you don't go in for poetics, you have to admit that strawberries (I don't anticipate any conflict here) are delicious! There's one other band currently in operation called Strawberry Band, that's a modern band problem-- the shared name. But they're an all-women Beatles cover band out of Mexico, so I don't think we're going to have people showing up at out gig expecting them, or vice versa, and I don't think they plan on making recordings.

Incidentally if you're in a band with no name, and in any shade of agony about it, let me know what kind of music it is and I'll send you a short list of names. Real offer! Also if you have a DIY venue that's just named [name of street] or [number of house] just reach out, but please also include an intent number from 0 (goofass shitball) to 6 (artworld passing). Bands I've named in the past (not including bands I've been in) include Funeral Cone, Bloody Swimsuit, Feedbacula, and Garbage Strike. I feel like there were more but I can't remember?? Are you out there? I've also had the good fortune to name a boat for someone: "the Elizabeth Bishop". That boat sailed around the world! Or it sailed some of it anyway, if I remember correctly.


Links

  • "Linda Linda" from the movie "Linda Linda Linda": [link]
  • I told a lot of people at the show to look this up, so I'll just post the link, it's a youtube search for "Blue Hearts with subtitles". Great band!!!! All these songs rip. [link]
  • "Rollers Gig"- great song about the Bay City Rollers, written and recorded pseudonymously by Nick Lowe to try to get out of a contract. But he fucked up and wrote too good a song: [link]. This is on my songs about other bands playlist. The Rollers are such a crazy band, they look so stupid now and no one listens to them but they probably seemed like the number one band on the planet for a period of time! The were the first band to be "the biggest band since the Beatles" and probably all the execs thought "this is how we're gonna do it from now on- one big band at a time". Luckily it didn't work. That said, the song "Saturday Night", that's a good song.