The Ol’ iPod Shuffle (Because You Really Want To Know)

Posted March 25, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

Let’s play a little iPod Roulette…

Spin the wheel and up pops…

Mother-In-Law by Ernie K-Doe: Wow, The Laws Of Chance dug pretty deep in the ol’ archives for this classic! I think this is on a Billboard compilation of #1 Hits (1961)… or at least that’s what it says on the little glowing screen.

Spin…

For Free by Joni Mitchell: Joni is one of the Rock Era’s greatest songwriters… and this is one of her better songs.

Spin…

The Fly by U2: A track from Achtung Baby… big whoop… I prefer Ernie K-Doe. OK, this will launch me into one of my foaming rants (it doesn’t take much to set me off these days). Every time the band U2 is mentioned it reminds me of a SportsTalk host named Colin Cowherd. Cowherd is one of those brash, yammering “personalities” who opines on the headlines in the Sports World on ESPN Radio/TV. I used to have him on the car radio as background noise. Once in awhile his meandering monologues takes him into the world of pop culture and entertainment, which is pretty much where the American Sports Scene resides anyway. One day he ventured astray from the topic of Tom Brady’s haircut and splashed down on the subject of U2 (whom he adores). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love U2. Terrific band (maybe a tad pretentious, but in a good way) and I think I have just about everything they’ve ever done in my library, but this Cowhered joker went too far.  This shrill yodeler wasn’t satisfied to wax poetic on the merits of Baltimore’s zone coverage, he felt it necessary to postulate that the Irish band, U2 ,was a better, more influential and important band than… wait for it… more important than… get this… more influential than… gasp!… THE BEATLES!!! Yeah, you heard me right. More important than The Beatles. Even Bono in all his self-important hubris wouldn’t dare to make such a statement. A better band than The Beatles? Really? In the seven (more or less) years The Beatles recorded together they virtually re-invented Rock and Roll. Their growth as musicians and songwriters reflected the coming of age of an entire generation… from Please Please Me to Abbey Road their creative output is astounding. You can listen to U2’s first album back-to-back with their latest and pretty much hear the same band. Not so The Beatles. Anyway, sometimes a person can say something so utterly stupid that anything they ever say from that point forward has to be dismissed as the ravings of a syphilitic lunatic. You know, like Rick Santorum or Sarah Palin. Sheesh… as Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”

Thanks for letting me get that off the ol’ sternum.

Spin…

Shuffle Your Feet by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Any band that calls their album, “Howl”, is all right with me.

Spin…

Expecting To Fly by Neil Young: From the album, Sugar Mountain, Live at the Canterbury House, 1968. An acoustic version of the song that as a studio track from Buffalo Sprinfield Again was buried in the lush ornamentation popular in that day. At its core, a very nice little song.

Spin…

Come Sail Away by Styx: I have this on my iPod??? Really??? OK, I have to throw the damn thing away now.

Why It Is Imperative Jim Croce Remain Dead

Posted March 22, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

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Many people harbor irrational and seemingly arbitrary prejudices and dislikes. You know, pet peeves like hairless cats or people who pick their teeth in public. I, however, have a blinding hatred for one thing in particular. I cannot stand the music of the late Jim Croce.

I realize that “hating” a deceased 1970s singer-songwriter is wrong. I’m also aware that the man may have been a wonderful human being and my passionate dislike for this mustachioed hack might seem unfair and actually hurtful to his many fans, friends and to the family that, I’m sure, loved him. I don’t care. The fucker wrote and sang, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and for that, there is no excuse.

Let me try and explain the reasons behind my derision. Back in the early and mid ’70s there were a slew of musicians flooding the music scene that wrote the songs they themselves sang and played. This was a relatively new development in the pop industry. It had barely been ten years since The Beatles and Bob Dylan made it de riguer for artists to write their own stuff. The influx of performers like James Taylor, Carole King, Cat Stevens, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro, Leonard Cohen, John Prine and Loudon Wainwright III were lumped in with guys like Croce, Harry Chapin and John Denver and dubbed, “Singer-Songwriters.” Even worse was being tagged “The New Bob Dylan,” an albatross hung on real talents in their own right like Ellott Murphy and Bruce Springsteen. But it was the denim-shirted Croce that really frosted my hairy orbs.

Let me further explain, I have many, many faults and foibles – I accept that I’m as imperfect as a Jackson Pollack diagram of an electro-magnetic motor, not the least of these imperfections is that I’m a horrible “music snob.” Remember those geeks who worked in record stores or music distributor’s warehouses and believed that as part of “The Music Industry” their opinions counted for far more than the poor shlub’s who came in and plunked down his $4.95 + tax for the new Foghat 8-Track? Well, I’m one of those. To those of us in the rarified air of our own self-importance there was a natural cool-factor that marked the difference between being a fan of, say, Bruce Springsteen (very cool) and Bob Seger (not so much). Though both artists mined basically the same musical terrain and both sold a ton of records, The Boss was considered a genius while Seger was summarily dismissed as some kind of AM Radio Hack (there was nothing less cool that having an AM Radio hit unless you were The Beatles, Stones or Dylan). Unfair? Fuck you… it’s just the way it is. There are thousands of examples of these arbitrary distinctions… The Move (cool) and ELO (crass commercial drivel), Genesis (cool costumes and makeup) and KISS (stupid costumes and makeup).I mean, it’s self-evident, right? Well, that’s how I felt about Jim Croce. Sure, he was a Folk-based, guitar-toting, denim-clad, truck-driver Everyman – but, his crap was catchy and radio-friendly (heathen!) while a Folk-based,guitar-toting, denim-clad kid who wrote catchy tunes like, Steve Forbert, was far cooler.

But, honestly, it goes much deeper than that. My distaste for Croce is a deep-seated hostility bred by the fact that he’s where I draw the line when it comes to “acceptable” listening material. I’ve taken a stand. The guy just irritates me beyond what even I can consider rationality. The cheesy porno-mustache, the “working man’s clothing” and the stupid George Burns cigar just make me wanna slap him. His music is pointless. Paeans to fictional characters churned out for Community College drop-outs (do I have to explain why Ray Davies’ paeans to fictional characters are sublimely cool while Jimbo’s suck scrote? I didn’t think so). I not only want to tug on Superman’s cape, I want to wind it like a jailhouse noose around the Welcome Back Kotter Extra’s freaking neck. I know, I know, he’s already dead and we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but DAMN, I hate his stuff!

Karma being what it is, I will no doubt be met in the Afterlife by a disgruntled, curly-headed, Mario Bros.-looking folkie with a guitar and a bone to pick. I just hope I’m not wearing my cape when we face-off. He’d probably kick my ass and write one of his horrible fucking songs about it.

Picto-Puzzler: State Of Contusion

Posted March 22, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

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Can you guess the solution to the PictoGram Puzzler? 

Missing Mr. Bergman

Posted March 21, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

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Well, it’s still strange to sit down and try to come up with a cartoon idea without trying to tailor it for Pete’s usage. I didn’t really realize what a big part of my creative life he had become. Sigh. At least I’ve got a box full of ideas and sketches I can go through, but in the meantime, I miss the Bozo.

What Would Jesus Do If HE Were The Broncos’ GM?

Posted March 20, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

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©2012, Hal O’Dali

It’s Just Me and the Little Brown Dog

Posted March 20, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

Here I am, back in the Blogosphere! Yeah, sitting perched high above the F Line with The Little Brown Dog. It’s been awhile, an unforced hiatus if you will, but I’m anxious to start spewing flotsam and jetsam on the most trivial of matters, like what’s currently on rotation on my iPod™ ….

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WRECKING BALL • BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND

I know, everybody and their dog has reviewed the new Bruuuuce LP, but now it’s me and my dog’s turn.

I think it’s fair to say that no musical artist since Woody Guthrie has tapped into the Working-Class Everyman’s American Psyche the way Springsteen has over the course of his career. His was the most eloquent and touching of the millions of 9/11 treatises with 2002’s, The Rising. He paid homage to the great Unwashed Folk Tradition of the mid-20th Century with his Seeger Sessions and continued to carry the banner of the Average American Rock & Roll Soulster with his back-to-back-to-back classics, Devils & Dust, Magic and Working On A Dream. With Wrecking Ball he may have hit his pinnacle.

If Woody Guthrie had the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression, Bruce has glommed onto the Occupy Wall Street 99%er vibe goin’ down nationally and provided all the anthems the movement will ever need. A

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OLD IDEAS/LEONARD COHEN

The Master is in his 70s and the singing is mostly a whispered recitation set against sparse instrumentation (aside from the “live in the studio” feel of Darkness, which was recorded with his well-groomed, road-tested touring band) but this masterpiece could not have been done any other way. What I love most about this collection is that it seems to settle in on your soul a little more with each listen. You should play this one at least once every three or four days for a month or two and let it wind like smoke through your neurons. Really nice stuff. A+

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ALL WE ARE SAYING • BILL FRISELL

This is a 2011 release but I just picked it up a few weeks ago (one of those Amazon sale downloads) so I’m including it here.

Not usually a fan of “tribute” albums, but in this case I think it’s interesting enough to warrant a little discussion.

Of the duo, John Lennon was considered a “word guy” while McCartney seemed unequaled as a master of melody. What guitarist Bill Frisell manages to show us here is that Lennon knew his way around a tune as well. Frisell, a veteran guitarist with an eclectic style that makes me think of Robert Fripp on warm Bosco, finds the beauty of Lennon’s compositions in sometimes the oddest of places. Beatle songs as old as Please Please Me float incandescently alongside solo works like #9 Dream and Woman – they all sound new in the Frisell translation.

Oddly, the least-interesting cuts are the ones considered John’s most accessible. Imagine is just boring Musak when stripped of its personality. Frisell mines musical gold in between the lines of songs like Nowhere Man and the opener, Across The Universe (the album’s best cut). The interplay of guitar and pedal steel is mesmerizing throughout the entire LP. All in all, a neat take on familiar material. Worth a listen. B

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As most of you guys know, the Lovely Miss Beans and I have high-tailed it from the wilds of Redding and found ourselves on the 22nd floor of a big, obnoxious box on San Francisco’s Market Street. We’ve been ensconced in our little nest for a little more than a year now and are starting to feel acclimated to City Life.

The above photo was taken from the infamous balcony on a nice, clear SF day (thought that was an oxymoron, didn’t you?) … there seems to ALWAYS be something goin’ down out there…

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Baseball season is upon us!!! My Beloved Bums are gonna surprise some folks this year! (I think.) Andy has moved to Chicago and lives within walking distance of Wrigley Field… Zac will be visiting Fenway and Safeco (probably catch another Pirates or Phillies game before heading West), Nick has stops planned at Fenway, Wrigley and Miller Park before heading to L.A. with me and Sam for their first visit to Dodger Stadium. Hey, what can I say? We likes a little hardball!

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I’m still coming to terms with the recent loss of my friend and mentor, Peter Bergman. Look for Peter Bergman’s Big Brouhaha, A Tribute By The Firesign Theatre on April 21st. Plans are still in the formative stage, but a live web streaming is in the works. Also, look for Chromium Switch #3 coming out soon as a downloadable e-mag.

See you all soon!

Hunters and Gatherers Stoked About Blog Resurrection!

Posted March 20, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

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Yes! It’s true! We’re gravitating away from Facebook a bit and firing up the ol’ Blogaroo again. I miss pontificating on matters great and small, blathering inanaties and basically taking up a little CyberSpace with silly doodles and kooky haikus… or Haikookies, as we like to say.

At any rate, I hope you’ll check-in once in awhile to see what the ol’ Philbert has smudged your monitor/phone/pad or similar device with… oh, and there might be an occasional Guest Blogger too.

It’s Berg-Man!

Posted March 19, 2012 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Webcomics

It's Berg-Man!

I drew this last week as a “get well” card for Pete, little knowing that he wouldn’t.

What you DIDN’T see at Pecha Kucha Redding Night (Lucky Duckies)

Posted April 20, 2010 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

Tags: , ,

This would have been my presentation in the 20×20 Pecha Kucha Redding event April 16th. That’s 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide, each with my brilliant running commentary. I got the bit in late so the organizers didn’t get a chance to see it until the day before the event. Well, they didn’t deserve the mess I turned in, so in a hastily prepared “Plan B” we put something together hours before the presentation that went off without injuries, so it’s all good. Here’s the Pecha Kucha you were spared…

Greetings. Welcome to my Peachy Kachoo presentation, “The Illustrated Secret History of Shasta County.” This is the true story of the region we call home. You won’t find this information in any history books and the Shasta County Hysterical Society has long ignored these facts and, conveniently, replaced them with documented evidence. We’re not here for evidence; we’re here for the truth. So, follow me.

Back in the days before time began, our four fathers came upon this land and stopped. We believe they stopped because they spied four mothers. We are lucky there were four fathers and four mothers. Had there been five fathers and four mothers, things could have gotten ugly. But fortune smiled upon us and everything worked out. Out of this chance meeting sprang the first subdivision.

It’s true the first peoples to inhabit the valley were squatters, it was their squatting that made the land so fertile. It also gave parts of the region a distinct aroma… well, stench, actually. Now, of course, we know that area as Cottonwood. But, in those days it was just known as Port Au Let. A little misleading as there really wasn’t a port, per se. But it was a warm, low-lying area in which to squat.

Still, time went on… and the landscape continued to evolve. For example, there was a mountain, soon to be called Shasta. Many of you here today cling to the false belief that the great mountain that looms to the north is a long dormant volcano. Untrue! It is actually the residual dirt pile from the excavation done by the indigenous peoples who were making a pit to house the region’s first casino.

These people took their name from the pit they had excavated. Yes, the were the Pits. And, the first overseers of the casino became known as pit bosses. Unfortunately, the displaced dirt had been heaped atop the neighbors, the Lemurians, who live under the mountain to this day. Though they’re still not happy about it. You wouldn’t be happy about it either, I’ll bet…

I just want to stop here for a moment and point out that we’re barely two minutes into my presentation and look at all you’ve learned! I bet you thought you were going to leave Petcha Choo Choo Night in Redding just as dumb as when you came in. Ha! Fooled you! We’ve managed to kill about 36,000 of your brain’s neurons since we’ve started, so you’re leaving here a lot dumber than when you came in! You’re welcome.

Now, back to our history, already in progress. Life continued in the region quite happily for a few eons. In part, because of the life-sustaining Sacramento River. “Sacramento” being the native word for “that which moves slowly, if at all.” The river brought water, salmon and tourists to the valley. The waterway also helped carve out the area’s distinguishing features. As everyone knows, for every river you need a bridge, and our river was no different. But, it wasn’t enough for our four fathers to have just a bridge. They wanted a bridge that could tell time!

So, they built a big sun dial on the banks of the That Which Moves Slowly If At All River. It was a good thing they built a sun dial because nobody in Ancient Redding had ever built a bridge. In fact, they weren’t very good at building sun dials either. This one ran three minutes slow and seemed to need constant winding. So, in a fit of frustration the people pushed the big sun dial over… and it fell across the river. Voila! A bridge!

With a new bridge, the two sides of town were now united. No longer would the Shasta High football team have to stand on one side of the river and throw rocks at the Enterprise football team. Now, they could cross the bridge and get a much better shot… in fact, both sides began wearing helmets as the frequency of “direct hits” had gone up considerably since the bridge became functional. Unfortunately, the rivalry has lost much of its luster as both teams now are nothing more than patsies for Foothill.

As we have reached the halfway point of my presentation. We will pause for a 15-second intermission.

There. I think we all needed that. Let’s leap ahead in time — since not much was going on except peaceful hunting and gathering for thousands of years. Things started getting interesting again around  the 1800s. That’s when guys with mules and some with pack animals started showing up. They had two things on their mind… well, three things… Gold, logging and medical marijuana cultivation. Things began to boom in Shasta County. Some of the booming was small arms fire, but progress is progress.

With all the new folks coming to town, lured by gold, logs and glaucoma cures, a city began to emerge. Buildings, roads, hospitals, schools and RV Parks all began to sprout up. The city was named Redding. Why the name Redding? No one knows. Anybody who says they know why Redding is called Redding are delusional. Especially those whackos over at the Shasta Hysterical Society… what with their documents and all. The fact is, the naming of Redding “Redding” is a complete mystery.

Even though the naming of the town remains an enigma, the fact is that a burgh needs stuff. Like a city hall. The first city hall was erected in 1901 and served as a multi-purpose building. By day, it was the city hall… by night it was one of the region’s first full-service brothels. This tradition carried over into modern times as the current city hall has been known to rent office space and stairwells at an hourly rate. Or, so I’ve heard.

Still, as Redding grew it began to discover what it was really good at, and what it was really good at was making large amounts of pancakes. The town was so good at it that all the local cowboys gave up punching cattle in favor of whisking batter. The cattle were grateful for less punching, but the additional butter demands sort of made the whole deal a wash. Hey, cooking up thousands of pancakes got us on Good Morning, America – which was, after all,  pretty cool.

Today, Redding takes pride in its political and cultural diversity. Latest census figures indicate that there are now 11 Democrats in the county and, most shockingly, there are now 38 people who admit to having watched a film with subtitles… but in truth, neither of these claims can be proven and many of us are convinced that more Sasquatches than Democrats can be spotted roaming the promenade. Although, things may be loosening up as we hear there’s now an Episcopalian family within the city limits. Tolerance, thy name is Redding.

You may have noticed that as this Pecker Coochie presentation has gone on that there has been a steady decline in both the actual content and the quality of the artwork. Well, that’s because I had to come up with over six minutes of material all by myself. It’s widely known that I can’t keep anything up for over six minutes, let alone an informative and entertaining Power Point presentation. Ask anybody. They’ll tell you.

At some point I’ll resort to cheap tricks like slowly drawing…. Out….. my….. words…..and… using… a …. Pencil…. And…. No…. color …. For….The …. Drawings…. Themselves….

You, as an audience may begin to feel cheated by these lame tactics, but I have a question for you. How much did you pay to get in here tonight? Huh? Shell out a lot of dough to take in the festivities did you? Well, I’ll fill you in on a little secret… I agreed to prepare this Pet Your CooCoo slide show in exchange for half the gate receipts. That’s right… I get half of what you paid to see the show.

But, I suppose if you feel that strongly about out, I’ll refund your price of admission out of my own pocket. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of the stuff you paid with tonight. Tons of it. I’ve got so much nothing that I’ve taken to donating large amounts of it to various religious groups. I’m making a killing with the Buddhists, but I think the Episcopalian family is on to me. Hopefully, they don’t stay up this late and I can make my getaway before they even figure out I was here.

Don’t let it be said that I didn’t adhere to the Pooty Kojack format, this is in fact… the twentieth slide… which is all I agreed to do. Thank you all for your kind attention but you’ll have to excuse me… I need to find the organizers so I can pick up my check… I bet it looks a lot like this screen… good night, and if I managed to offend you… well, that’s what I get paid for.

NOTE: Larry, Tish and the organizers of PKN Redding should be commended for their sense of decorum and good taste. Even though they shot-down my presentation, the one we did in its place was more fun and a lot looser. I think it was more in keeping with the spirit of the event. I’m just glad to have been invited… but, they should have known that if they let me in, chances were that I’d end up piddling on the carpet. They know better now.

Pecha Kucha, Tea Parties and God Bless Patrick Henry Jones

Posted April 18, 2010 by Phil Fountain
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

Tags: , , , ,

Here’s my latest cartoon, as seen (much smaller) on A News Cafe Dot Com… and, below my latest masterpiece (I colored inside the lines, didn’t I?) is a snapshot taken by (I think) Larry Harris at Pecha Kucha Night Redding this past Friday wherein I blathered on for 6.67 minutes about the trials and travails of being an editorial cartoonist in Redding. Which, thanks to consistently bizarre behavior by public officials (hooray for the Mayor!) really isn’t as difficult as I like to make it out to be. Anyway, Happy Sunday!