The blog for The Solitaire Rose Experience. Yes, the blog revolution is utterly and completely over. However, I haven't figured that out yet, so I'll be listing articles, ideas, links, and other internet debris. Now, you can join in! And be mocked mercilessly!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Radio, Radio

I quit listening to music radio quite a long time ago. There wasn't a specific incident that made me quit, so it didn't piss me off all of a suddent, more like a slowly growing realization that, over time, there was less and less that I wanted to be bothered with listening to. It came in stages, really, the first being in college when I gave up on top 40 music. I think everyone does that at one point or another, as part of their growing up. I was a fan of New Wake and New York Punk, but still had a soft spot in my heart for top 40, because in small town Illinois, it's just about all you have.

I stuck with classic rock a while longer, but let's face it, there are only so many times you can listen to "Whole Lot Of Love" in one lifetime, and your average classic rock station burns through that in about six months.

Then, as the grunge wave hit, there were GOOD radio stations around, playing decent music...there was an Adult Alternative station (which at the time meant Tori Amos, Indigo Girls, Counting Crows and the like), the metal station turned its playlist over to grunge, and here in Minneapolis, there was REV 105 which played a WONDERFUL mix of music that I wasn't hearing anywhere else.

I still listened to NPR news, seeing as how I'm a news junkie , but I listened to a mix of swing, blues, old punk, new alternative and whatever else they could throw against the wall. Then, REV 105 was bought by Disney, they moved their grunge station to the frequency and brought back the metal station and suddenly there was nothing worth listening to anymore. I turned to CDs and news....but checked in once in a while with the Adult Alternative station and found that they hadn't updated their playlist since I was listening to them back in 1997. Classic Rock still had yet to realize that David Bowie put out anything after "Ziggy Stardust" and Led Zeppelin was still played hourly.

I listen to some internet radio, but for th emost part, I listen to radio when I I listened to my CDs, talk radio (since Air America started) and gave up on new music. I resigned myself to becoming like the baby boomers I'd known that just quit buying new music after a certain time. The difference was that they quit buying new music because they hated the stuff in the top 40, and I quit because no new music was getting airplay unless it was being pushed by some Big Monster corporation.

ALL of music seemed to be becoming two tiered...small acts who play clubs and big acts that are put together by Jessica Simpson's dad (oir one of his many clones)

This week, I started listening to the radio again. I even turned away from Al Franken and Terri Gross because there is a new MPR: station called 89.3 The Current. They are playing an amazing mix of music I've NEVER heard before, but like...and the few songs they do play that I know aren't the Big Hits but songs like, Johnny Cash: Kick against the pricks or Ashley MacIsaac: Sleepy Maggie.

For too long, radio has been saying, "We're like your CD collection," forgetting that I HAVE my own CD collection, and I don't need commercials in it to enjoy it. I want to listen to my smart, well-informed friend's music collection.

And I think I've found it.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Johnny Carson

With the passing of Johnny Carson, I'm struck again by my own age and the changes I have seen.

There are plenty of people on the internet who will write moving tributes like Mark Evanier, but mine is a lot more personal.

I grew up in a very small farm town, pretty damn far away from everything. So, like many people my age, I learned everything from books, comics and TV. As a kid, I KNEW about Johnny was hard not to as my parents and grandparents would talk about his show all the time. They would tell some joke they heard on Carson, or talk about some silly thing a guest did, and I'd be fascinated. Problem was, it was on so late that I wasn't allowed to stay up that late. With an 8:30 bedtime, 10:30 was some far off time that I couldn't even hope to stay up until.

It became almost a rite of passage to be allowed to stay up until Carson was on, and by my Sophmore year, I was finally allowed...

And I fell in love with Carson's monlogue. Just loved it. It was political humor, pretty bland in the face of the other stuff that was around, but still, here was a guy who started his show making jokes about what was going on in the news. A couple of my friends were as comedy obsessed as I was, and we'd go over what Carson did the next day, just dissecting how he put jokes together. I didn't much care for the sketches he did after the first commercial since I'd already gotten hooked on Saturday Night Live by then, and they were doing brilliant work in that format that made Carson seem old and dated. But the monologue was the best thing on TV.

A few years later, Letterman came along as deconstructed the whole idea of talk shows, and was the show for the hip college student (it was the 80's, give me a break), but with Carson, there was always the monologue.

Even when I finished college, and drifted to more alternative humor and got hooked on cable.....I still missed Johnny's monologues. I didn't have the time to watch them with working weird hours, and raising a son on my own, but by then, I knew how he put jokes together, and ruthlessly applied his comedy rules.

A lot of people have pointed out different comedians that my jokes are like....used to be Dennis Miller until he went unfunny, or Bill Hicks (who didn't discover until after his death) or Bill Maher.

But no, none of them were my influences. When it comes to the Weekly News Update, the good ones are inspired by Carson. The bad ones....well, those are just mine.

So, Johnny, I hope you realize just how many lives you touched, just by coming out and doing the best damn TV show you could do for 30 years.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Comics fights!

One of the weird things about comics to me is that there are a LOT of professionals who have a rock star like feeling about themselves. Never mind that they produce funny books for aging fanboys, but most of the ones with the biggest egos seem to be ones that USED to be "hot artists" and are now just barely able to sell enough comics to make a living at it.

For example, John Byrne was the man who drew the X-Men when it started getting big, did a great run on the Fantastic Four and re-designed Superman. All of those things happened from about 1978 to 1986. By 1992, his star had fallen so far that his "creator owned" comic "The Next Men (oh no, he wasn't trying to play off his past fame there at all) was stumbling out of the gate, and he was becoming best known for knocking younger artists and poor convention behavior. Right or wrong, Bynre got a reputation as a prima donna, and his public statements did nothing to help his cause.

Nor did his terrible horror novel Whipping Boy, which had as one of its character, a fat, hygenically challenged comic book fan who is gleefully killed as part of the plot.

Mostly, he now shows his personality on his message board , where he decires black people remaking old TV shows, thinks the Onion is a serious newspaper and blasts other comic creators for disagreeing with his ideas.

Somewhere on the internet, there is a serious discussion to be had about the point in the final some comic book characters can be so open to interpretation that they become almost mythological and it is more important what the person reading the story brings to it thanb what the creators intend...but Byrne's forum isn't the place. It's the place for "That's how it was in the 70's, and since that's when I started reading comics, things should just stay like that."

And if you feel the same way, I point you to the reprints and back issues and say, "Get reading, bub." I, for one, would rather see comics change with the times.

That and Neal Adams is about a bajillion times the artist that John Byrne is.

And my vacation is over

I';ve had a bit of a break, both from work and from the web as I get caught up on a few outside projects, take time to re-charge and dig in to the novel I will be writing over the winter and spring. The way it is breaking donw is that as long as work stays at a decent level, I should get two novels written and 4 of them editied well enough to send out to different publishers. I'm also hoping that the comic strip starts up again soon....I have the next two years written, and it would be a damn shame if no one got to see them.

I'm also working on getting caught up on the Weekly News Update up to date, as if fell behind as I was working on other things. So, not so much a blog entry as an update on how much I have been behind.

The problem is, my Tivo and I have formed a pretty deep bond. It knows I like od movies, crappy sports and I'm worried that it wil simply explode in April. Have you seen the list from Turner Classic Movies for April? TONS of comedies from the 30's, and most of the better ones in their library as well. Since American Movie Classics changed (thinking that movies from 10 years ago that have been played out on other cable channels are classics, putting in ads, and the like), TCM is about the only choice when it comes to movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood. You can't rent them at most video stores, local channels no longer have movies when they can fill the time with re-runs of Jerry Springer or infomercials, so that's all we've got.

Thankfully, the programmers there know how to keep us cinema buffs happy, and give us silent movies on Sunday nights.

I've also been thinking about the blog here, and what to do with it. Hopefully, I finally have an idea or two that will keep it from being forgotten, or just another waste of bandwidth.

You can comment now, so hopefully, I get a bit of feedback on it.