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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Desert Island Disc: The Final Playlist (and the Final Post of 2013)

Day 6B: Tracking

I wrote those last words months ago. Since then, and I will admit that even for an obsessive mixtape maker like I was in the eighties (every girlfriend I ever had—including my current wife when we started dating in 2002, though by then it was a mix-double-CD—got a mixtape at some point in our relationship, and of course I traded with friends all the time) this is overkill, I’ve been tweaking the tracking. Part of the art of the mixtape is in figuring out what songs go where, and every mixtape maker has his or her own formula as to what works and what doesn’t. Mine changes; sometimes I go thematically, when the subject matter of a particular tape warrants it. But hey, I’m a poet. The most important thing to me is that stuff sounds good when you jam it together. So I started, as I sometimes do, by classifying our twenty-two survivors on two qualities at their beginnings and ends: the volume level (with “normal” being most of the audible range) and abruptness of the transition. From there, it was simply a question of finding the combinations where everything matched as well as possible and taking each one into consideration. That comparison shopping alone could have easily made this series twice as long; given that because of the way it ends I knew “Red Haired Girl” was the last piece, that still left me with 21! combinations. Is this the best of them? I don’t know, but it sounds that way to me after months of different iterations. And thus I give you Goat’s Desert Island Disc. If I had eighty minutes of music left to listen to my entire life, they would sound exactly like this (well, without the Youtube ads):

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Pile of Eggs/Murderous Vision/etc. (2000): No Comments from the Peanut Gallery

Pile of Eggs/Murderous Vision/XTerminal/Contamination Diet/Lockweld/Mike Duncan
The Peanut Gallery, Akron, OH, 6-10-2000
[originally posted 15Jun2000]
I feel like I’m leaving someone off the bandlist and I’m gonna get my ass kicked…

First and foremost: for the second time in a row, no one was around except members of other bands to see Pile of Eggs perform. Their loss. These guys put on a fabulous stage show. Think Penn and Teller do noise; in-your-face physical comedy, unintelligible vocals, and the kind of antics usually only seen on trailer-park special PPV wrestling shows. They will no doubt build a huge following extremely quickly.
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The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1974): Lamento

Heinrich Böll, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (McGraw-Hill, 1974)

[originally posted 29Jan2001]

The cover to the Penguin English edition of the novel has the protagonist's face partially obscured by jungle foliage, almost in Heart of Darkness style.

Gives “in the weeds” a whole new meaning.
photo credit: Wikipedia

One of the things about the European avant-garde literature movement in the middle of the last century that was most influential was the inversion technique. Most commonly used with mysteries, the authors would expose pieces of the mystery commonly left until the end of most novels, and then extract the mystery itself from things normally given early on in the story. Heinrich Böll was one of the best at this game, and The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is his best-known work of this sort.
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Desert Island Disc Day 6A: Sudden Death

Day 6A: Sudden Death

We have made it to the final twenty-four…and we still have five minutes and fifteen seconds to pare. It would be too easy for there to be a single song left in the competition that ran, you know, 5:17, and thus I turn to our old enemy, the random picker at textmechanic. The final twenty-four have been fed in. There is a one in twelve chance (as there is only one track remaining in the competition longer than 5:15) that there will only be one round (and that is only if the other competitor were to beat Robert Turman, a dicey proposition at best), so we’ll play the odds and say there will be two rounds or more. Same head-to-head style as before, but the combatants will be as much a surprise to me as they are to you. After each matchup after #2, we’ll see if we need to go father. And so the text mechanic hands us the first battle:

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Before Night Falls (1993): The World’s a Nicer Place in My Beautiful Balloon

Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (Penguin, 1993)

[originally posted 16May2001]

Reinaldo Arena gazes off into the distance in a photo from his younger years on the cover of the book.

One of the only memoirs ever written actually worth reading.
photo credit:

Arenas’ memoir of life in Cuba has recently been made into one of the finest films extant by Julian Schnabel. Schnabel did an excellent job with the book; while his interpretation of the text was loose in places, he managed to capture in images the style of Arenas’ writing.
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Lisa e il Diavolo (The House of Exorcism) (1974): Blandequin

Lisa e il Diavolo (The House of Exorcism) (Mario Bava, 1974)

A badly-rendered painting of Elke Sommer running from...something...graces the movie poster.

How the hell is it a “double feature” when those are two names for the same movie?
photo credit:

I don’t know why I keep watching Mario Bava movies. I’ve seen all of those that people have recommended to me over and over again and found them anywhere from mediocre (Bay of Blood) to utterly unwatchable (Black Sunday). And yet so many people I know are so taken with Bava’s movies that I keep trying. I don’t do that with Woody Allen or Godard, so what is it about Bava? That said, I may have finally found the movie that will put me off him forever, Lisa e il Diavolo. Incoherent, rambling, badly-paced, and one of the largest wastes of A-list talent I have ever experienced, this movie would be best-served with the piquant odor of burning celluloid.

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I’m a Stranger Here Myself (1999): Energy Star

Bill Bryson, I’m a Stranger Here Myself (Broadway Books, 1999)

[originally posted 23Jan2001]

The book's cover features one of those coin-operated-telescope things with stars in its eyes and a smiley face.

He’s a jukebox hero.
photo credit:

At, one of the (many) ways a quiz can go from a relatively high ranking to “very poor” between the time I start and the time I finish is a factual error that causes me to get a question wrong. Research is a beautiful thing.

Half of me is willing to give Bill Bryson the benefit of the doubt; the other half is ready to excoriate him on what may be a false impression. I’ll attempt to keep it reserved.
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