October 26, 2016

Books Are Here, There And Every Which Way But Where

Normally at this time I would succinctly state that a fresh post is up at I Are Writer! for you to peruse and enjoy. However, it would be a redundancy (much like the guv'ment) to direct you towards there, since today's post is not-quite-the-carbon-copy of that post, but it comes pretty damn close (topic, but not content).

A few weekends ago my brother, after much delicate pushing and prodding by a few residents of this household, came down to the house to start the very long and labor intensive process of reorganizing/purging of the vast amounts of schtuff he had stored here for the past several years. Most of which either came from his house, my father's two offices and my grandfather's house.

Speaking of grandfather's house, we (collectively the family) pulled out hundreds of westerns dating from the 50's thru the 80's/90's. The end result for these are to see what's what and sell them.

Anywho, during the course of the cleanup, which as a guv'ment employee I supervised (j/k) we got to discussing the amount of books that dad had. I didn't realize just how many he had until my brother thoughtfully pointed to the one dozen tubs that he had pulled out to re-store.

As you can imagine, the first reaction/words out of my mouth were not "Seriously?" but "Holy sh!t"

My second reaction was to open up one of the tubs and pull out a very old book that was in a Ziploc storage bag. The book itself looked to be in remarkably good condition, with only a little wear to the cover. I brought it inside and took it out of the baggie. I opened the over just enough to see what the publication date was and perhaps one or two pages. Sufficed to say, I was very impressed with the condition of this book.

I went back outside and told my brother I think I can find a home for this book as I know of a historical society that specializes in this content. The book was The Official Complete Guide to The Lincoln Highway 5th edition (c) 1924. A few days later, once I had the time to research this bad boy, I found that the historical society who thought would be interested, didn't cover the Lincoln Highway but covered US 40.

So back to searching I did go. A few minutes later, I found the website to The Lincoln Highway Association. I proceeded to spend next half hour or so tooling around the website, checking the links, checking a semi-defunct blog and checking a Facebook group run by the owner of the defunct blog. I started my inquiries with the FB group, but all I got out of the admin was an acknowledgment that he accepted my private message.

Note: when I'm looking for help on something I know just about zilch, I will often shoot a polite e-mail to a possible solution/contact and ask if they aren't the right person could they point me in the proper direction.

Suffice to say, I went back to the website and shot off an e-mail to the main contact addy. I got a response the next day, and long story short, they would be very appreciative of my donation. A few days later, I packed up this bad boy in triplicate (Ziploc bag, cushioned 9 x12 envelope, then a priority mail envelope). Including extra insurance ($100), the entire package cost me $10.49 to ship.

Like I stated, this was my good deed for the day. I am somewhat of a weird American history buff (having worked in a library for 8 years), and I wanted to make sure that the book would go to a place that would 1} not stash away from prying eyes and 2} allow people to view it/use it for research purposes. I know if I had donated it up here at my previous employer, it would've more than likely stay locked up in the special collection, never to be seen/used again.

For all intents and purposes, unless I find another book of historical value like this one, this will be my last donation. While I do enjoy making donations, I'm also looking to make a few extra dollars for both myself and my brother.

So we can truthfully say that we have found something mundane to occupy our time between periods of pursuing the craft of writing.

And that, my friends, is a good thing indeed.

(c) 2016 BOOKS BY G.B. MILLER. All Rights Reserved.

October 19, 2016

Yas, The Music Done Come Around And Around

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of today's post, I want to remind everyone that I do have a fresh post up at I Are Writer! for you to peruse and abuse. Additionally, I did a little house cleaning and knocked out some 30+ blogs from my follower's list. Most, if not all, were pretty much d.o.a., as in either not updated for years (seriously) or not updated for several months. Might do a post about the state of blogging in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, let's go exploring my c.d. collection!

As you recall (if not, simply scroll down this page to refresh your memory), I waxed semi-poetically about the questionable music choices I had made over the years. This time, I would like to wax semi-poetically about the c.d.'s that perpetually make it to my car or my c.d. player at work. Some of these may be familiar to you, some may not.

I literally have dozens of c.d.'s that I consider to be my faves, but I will try my best to keep down to 10. So, in no order of importance, my list of faves. As a sidenote, the way they became my faves is that I got to enjoy exploring the c.d. after buying it for one or two radio friendly (aka hit) songs.

1} Drops Of Jupiter by Train. I first got into them with their song "Meet Virginia", and it sort of spiraled into the usual foray of buying a small chunk of their catalog (I have 4 of their c.d.'s). The title track really got to me, to the point where it was the partial inspiration behind this book, plus a few other stories to boot.

2} My Private Nation by Train. Yas, I know, another one by Train. This c.d. rocks from beginning to end. One of the best all around c.d.'s from a band that I've come across in quite sometime. Check out the song All American Girl.

3} Honky Tonk Boots by Sammy Kershaw. I've made it know far and extremely wide just how much I hate the current state of psuedo-country (aka pop) music. To me, most of it sucks (which I confirmed by listening to some of my recent selections. However, this one fell out of the norm. I saw it at my public library (naturally), and I figured that one dollar is a good enough investment. After just one listen through, this became another car player favorite. Solid and well written/played from beginning to end, I enjoyed it so much that I left a review on Amazon for it. Check out the song Tennessee Girl.

4} Time Stood Still by The Hooters. Always loved The Hooters during their heyday, so when I saw this c.d. while I was wandering around the late lamented Circuit City, I picked it up and checked out the contents. I recognized only one song, Boys Of Summer, so per the norm, I bought it. If you've been hanging around long enough, you heard me wax poetically on how this cover blows away the original out of the water and onto dry land. The rest of the c.d. goes without saying. Exploration was a joy and it became another staple.

5} Dirt by Alice In Chains. One of my fave bands from the 90's. Never saw them live but did enjoy their music. Their debut c.d. is what put them on the map and ultimately showed the world what could've been had Layne Staley not succumbed to a nasty heroin addiction. Would? is the song that did it for me (first purchased a soundtrack from a crappy movie for it). If you like this band, you should check out Jerry Cantrell's solo work.

6} Stranger Than Fiction by Bad Religion. California punk rock band that compares politically to The Dead Kennedys, their song 21st Century (Digital Boy) actually got some commercial radio play, which is how I discovered this c.d. The rest of the c.d. actually grows on you after a while and ultimately became another car staple.

7} Jericho by The Band. We all know The Band. Once thought by the 90's to be on the downside of their career, they came back with this c.d. The song that got me hooked, simply because it got radio airplay (trust me, when you're a band that is in geezer rock mode, you get radio airplay), was their good cover of Bruce Springsteen's Atlantic City.

8} Living In The Present/Future by Eagle Eye Cherry. I found this in the vast used section of FYE. It looked interesting enough so I figured why not. The c.d. is solid and entertaining from beginning to end, but the song that hooked me was Long Way Around, which featured his sister Neneh Cherry.

9} Chariot by Gavin DeGraw. Killer debut c.d. (if you pick up a copy, it comes with the full acoustic version of the c.d.). The song that got me hooked was I Don't Want To Be. Solid all the way through. Will have to search out his stuff as he seems to fall off the commercial radio charts.

10} The Family Jewels by Marina & The Diamonds. Okay, this one was recommended to me by Sparkling Red (who has temporarily stepped back into the real world), and this c.d. did not disappoint. Catchy as all hell, this debut will suck you in and never let you go. Check out the song Hollywood.

And that, my friends, is a (very) brief sample of car faves. Tune in next week when we'll attempt to find something else in my c.d. collection to talk about.

(c) 2016 BOOKS BY G.B. MILLER. All Rights Reserved.

October 12, 2016

You Cannot Be Serious About This Music

As per the norm, I have a fresh post up at I Are Writer!, in which I elaborate on why it's important to quadruple check your writing before hitting that send button. And here's an odd tidbit for ya: while this blog is slowly losing followers (41 at last count), my Tumblr blog has gained followers (currently at 10 overall).

But, you really don't want me to bloviate yet again about the muddled state of my blogging, so let's get on with the post, which was written 24 hours ago @ the time posted thereof.

Last week, I mentioned that I had finally finished cataloging my vast c.d. collection (a small correction to the total should be stated. I have 504, not 501, as I found three c.d.'s that I had missed when I'd emptied my racks a couple of months ago) and that I would share some of the more unusual selections that I had bought in the past three years or so.

As I've mentioned previously, I started expanding my musical horizons some 20+ years ago when I landed my first job with State of Connecticut. This expansion accelerated when my public library started selling gently used c.d.'s as fundraising fodder for the library group. So basically I started picking up anything and everything that caught my fancy. Some made sense and some made others scratch their collective head.

In no particular order of importance, here is a top ten list of artists that I've bought c.d.'s from that five years ago had me saying, "Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww."

1} C2C: Tetra. This group of three play/performs what is commonly called dance music, but in my day was called techno & electronica. I first got attracted to this group because of the song Down The Road used to be played a lot on a local college station, mostly as a bridge between programs. Drove me nuts since they did not identify the songs they used as bridges. Overall, a very cool c.d.

2} Cherry Poppin' Daddies: Zoot Suit Riot. They play what is called Swing/Jazz. I previously purchased a c.d. from The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. Wound up not liking it, but I thought I would give the genre another shot. Didn't like this one either, but at least I blew just $1 as opposed to $10 on the Bosstones.

3} La Esperanza: Esperanza II. I'm always intrigued about classical guitar/flamenco music, which was the main reason why I picked this one up. Very intriguing c.d. According to Amazon, you can only buy this as an on-demand c.d.

4} LFO: LFO. Boy band. 'nuff said.

5} Spice Girls. Spice World: Girl band. Okay, so I was intrigued enough about the group some 25 years after the fact to see what all the brew-ha-ha was all about. Seriously. And you bet I'll torture your ears. If I can tolerate it, you can too.

6} Jennette McCurdy: Jennette McCurdy: Former NickTeen star on the show ICarly and the one and done show Sam & Cat (with Arianna Grande). Sings in a country vein. Haven't listened to yet.

7} Tatu: 200km/h In The Wrong Lane: I heard about them somewhere. After reading their Wikipedia entry, they were a very successful Russian dance/electronica music duo. I got about one track in and turned it off.

8} Richard Kastle: Streetwise. Contemporary classical music musician. more than 'nuff said.

9} Hollywood Undead: Hollywood Undead. White boy gangsta rap. Check out my unvarnished 2 star review.

Uggh...can you believe that all I came up with is 9. 9 out of 504 c.d.'s that got me to scratch my head as well as yours. Which means that the remaining 495 c.d.'s have some kind of redeeming quality to them. Except maybe....

10} Phish. Farmhouses. I hate Phish. Hate them with a passion. Would rather listen to an album side of live Grateful Dead on the radio (yes, there is a program on college radio that has a segment called Flashback, in which he highlights an album/c.d. for the first 75 minutes or so) than listen to Phish. Having said all that, you're probably asking why did I pick this  up then? Simple: click on the link and you'll see that nowhere on the image is the bands name. On the spine, the name is small black print on gray background.

Thus my friends, a top ten list of questionable music choices. Next week I'll take a shot at my favorite 10 c.d.'s  of all time.

(c) 2016 BOOKS BY G.B. MILLER. All Rights Reserved.

October 5, 2016

I Gots The Rhythms In My Heads

As per the norm on this semi-stable yet highly abnormal blog, a fresh post is to be had at I Are Writer!, which features an update (among other things) to the status of the print release of What Is Life? (currently available for your Kindle and its various offshoots).

So, the other day, I finally finished cataloging my vast c.d. collection. Among the various minutia that I'd learned along way, was the fact that I slightly underestimated (not stratergized) the amount of c.d.'s in my collection. I believe I'd previously mentioned that I'd possessed about 600 c.d.'s. Well my friends, the actual amount of c.d.'s is not Levi 501 jeans, but 501 individual releases of single, double and in one particular instance, a Curtis Mayfield box set.

Impressive, eh?

You know what's more impressive? The amount of places that I patronized in order to purchase my c.d.'s. A total of at least 17 different places and two people were graced with my presence. These places include defunct music retailers like Circuit City & Borders, defunct local supermarkets like Food Mart, a concert venue and the ever popular B&N. But by far, the bulk of my purchases, topping at 57.8% {290+}, were made at my local public library.

Coincidentally, the public library is probably where I spent the least of amount of total dollars, with the bulk of the c.d.'s costing me but one-tenth of a Alexander Hamilton. The most expensive places on my shopping list were Amazon, Borders, B&N, FYE and the ever popular store. Yes, about 6% of my purchases were made at the unknown store. Why unknown? Because even someone like me, who has a very good memory for all kinds of pointless minutia, can't recall every place that was graced with my presence.

I think what makes this collection all the more impressive is that it's been roughly 20 years since my ears were opened to the beauty that is college/free-form radio (that would be 1996). From that point forward, I learned not only to listen to all kinds of genres but to appreciate those genres as well. There are still some genres that I will not listen to unless I either get the c.d.'s on the cheap (like country-pop) or just not listen to period (pop and most classic rock), but beyond that, I've listened to roughly two dozen genres/sub-genres of music.

From hard rock to heavy metal, bluegrass to Americana, classical to Cajun and everything else in between, I've sampled them all. I have some c.d.'s that I've enjoyed and some that would make you scratch your head and ask, "What in the world were you thinking?"

Well, my friends, I'm hoping to bring to you within the next week or two some examples of "What was I thinking when I decided to buy this?"

Until then, I leave you with a video of a favorite song that was covered, in my opinion, very badly by U2.

(c) 2016 BOOKS BY G.B. MILLER. All Rights Reserved.