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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shel Silverstein's Secret, Raunchy Recording Sessions - Sarah Weinman - Culture - The Atlantic

'Silverstein's manic laugh is the key to these tracks' true intent. Over the days or weeks these studio sessions took place, Shel Silverstein was just a guy having a great deal of fun. There's an unnamed, open-voiced producer as an audience, and perhaps a few suits who weren't as charmed by the material was never intended to see the light of day. Such things hardly mattered, for Silverstein didn't concern himself with entertaining a specific audience or worry whether he offended people. He simply produced what his creative impulses demanded at any given point in time.'

More than a decade after his death of a heart attack at age 68, Shel Silverstein's career avoids any defining label. Millions of children have anointed him to beloved status thanks to poetry books likeWhere The Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, and a visit to the website run in tandem by Shel's estate and his longtime publisher, HarperCollins, might convince you that his work for kids is his primary legacy.

Doing so, however, neglects the full spectrum of what made Silverstein tick as an artist. It rubs out the more than 40 years he spent in the bosom of Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire, a veritable court jester at Mansion gatherings when not traveling the world as the magazine's cartoon-capturing foreign correspondent (see Shel Silverstein Around the World, a coffee table-style compendium of reports from places like Moscow, Spain, and Fire Island) or producing epic poems like "The Perfect High" or "Hamlet As Told on the Street".

Sticking only to the school-age side of the road means ignoring his prodigious work as a songwriter (Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue"? Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show's "The Cover of the Rolling Stone"? The Irish Rovers' "Unicorn"? The Oscar-nominated "I'm Checking Out" from Postcards From the Edge? All penned by Shel), his one-act plays for Off-Off Broadway venues (which attracted the attention, and later friendship, of David Mamet) and a tentative foray into crime fiction that, if not for his premature passing, might have blossomed into something greater.

But the most remarkable element of his non-children's-lit career was Silverstein's nine albums worth of songs he recorded—and especially the album's worth of unreleased material that might even surprise fans of Shel's adult side.

As a recording artist, Silverstein brought a raspy vocal style (not unlike Tom Waits's satanic older cousin) that came from his teenage years as a Comiskey Park hot dog vendor. And his firsthand knowledge of various scenes (Greenwich Village Beats, the Chicago folk music world, Nashville's Music Row) led to a varying array of song styles and production values. By the late 1960s, this songwriting acumen helped Silverstein move into rock circles, thanks in large part to the New Jersey-based Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show.

Dr. Hook also backed Shel on his most commercially successful album, Freakin' At the Freakers Ball. "Commercially successful" is a relative term for a group of raucous and risque songs like Masochistic Baby." Shel sweetly intones that ever since his baby left him, "I've got nothing to hit but the wall." Dr. Hook gave it as much oomph as its own, Rolling Stone-cover-worthy album Sloppy Seconds, adding a sense of gleeful disconnect to the whole musical affair. The album cracked Billboard's Top 200 and recording label CBS provided a marketing budget, something beyond Shel's resources at the time. The one-sheet ad featured Shel, clad in a jean jacket, patterned shirt and cowboy boats, and what can only be described as a piratical beard, trumpeted as some sort of heir apparent to Gilbert O'Sullivan (!)

But Freakers Ball was likely the compromise point on a series of songs Shel recorded a couple of years before the final album was released, songs with eye-popping titles like "Fuck 'Em", "I Am Not a Fag" and "I Love My Right Hand.". Some of these songsare available on YouTube. Others may wish to seek the bootleg.

Shel Silverstein's Secret, Raunchy Recording Se..., posted with vodpod

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tonight's dinner menu...

Ulysses by James Joyce

The doorway was darkened by an entering form.

--The milk, sir!

--Come in, ma'am, Mulligan said. Kinch, get the jug.

An old woman came forward and stood by Stephen's elbow.

--That's a lovely morning, sir, she said. Glory be to God.

--To whom? Mulligan said, glancing at her. Ah, to be sure!

Stephen reached back and took the milkjug from the locker.

--The islanders, Mulligan said to Haines casually, speak frequently of the collector of prepuces.

--How much, sir? asked the old woman.

--A quart, Stephen said.

He watched her pour into the measure and thence into the jug rich white milk, not hers. Old shrunken paps. She poured again a measureful and a tilly. Old and secret she had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger. She praised the goodness of the milk, pouring it out. Crouching by a patient cow at daybreak in the lush field, a witch on her toadstool, her wrinkled fingers quick at the squirting dugs. They lowed about her whom they knew, dewsilky cattle. Silk of the kine and poor old woman, names given her in old times. A wandering crone, lowly form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the secret morning. To serve or to upbraid, whether he could not tell: but scorned to beg her favour.

--It is indeed, ma'am, Buck Mulligan said, pouring milk into their cups.

--Taste it, sir, she said.

He drank at her bidding.

--If we could live on good food like that, he said to her somewhat loudly, we wouldn't have the country full of rotten teeth and rotten guts. Living in a bogswamp, eating cheap food and the streets paved with dust, horsedung and consumptives' spits.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Part of this fall's cider pressing brewing in the corner...

What are words for? What do writers do?

Tom Stoppard once wrote a wonderful play called “The Real Thing". The play is about a writer named Henry, and at one point in the play he speaks about the connection between words and ideas:

“This thing here (a cricket bat), which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of a particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly. What we’re trying to do is write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might travel ... I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A solution to the annoying dinnertime questions from the crew...

Good morning...

ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News - video

Amy Tan (Chinese: 譚恩美; pinyin: Tán Enmei; Cantonese Yale: Taam Yanmei; born February 19, 1952) is a Chinese American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships. In 1993, Tan's adaptation of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, became a commercially successful film. The book has been translated into 35 languages.

Tan has written several other bestselling novels, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter and Saving Fish From Drowning. She also wrote a collection of non-fiction essays entitled The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings. Her most recent novel Saving Fish From Drowning explores the tribulations experienced by a group of people who disappear while on an art expedition in the jungles ofBurma. In addition to these, Tan has written two children's books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series airing on PBS. She also appeared on PBS in a short spot encouraging children to write.

Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?, posted with vodpod

Mr. Chippy presented us with this trophy from last night's hunt...

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