Friday, December 5, 2008
THIS SATURDAY FOR REAL AT THE FIRE ALL AGES WITH THE ARMCHAIRS AND TOY SOLDIERS ALL AGES ALL EXPENSES PAID
Will: on bass
Gretchen: on violin
Rick: on guitar
Kyle: on drums
Paul Rodgers: vocals
Which will be interesting and vastly entertaining. Speaking of vastly, I just came across this fabulous old interview with Rick, Will and Doug from the banner year of 2006:
THIS IS THE LINK TO THE INTERVIEW SO CLICK IT
I really loved this couple and their podcast. I also love Doug and Will. And goodness knows I love promoting things that are three years old. So there you have it, a little blast from the past.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
And if you're anything like me, then Nick Krill used to live upstairs from where you made your album. He doesn't live there anymore (we've turned his room into an aquarium), but when he did it was pretty great because he was able to mix the entirety of The Farthest Shore and I didn't have to go anywhere except up some stairs in order to tell him to turn up my guitar. And he really did do an amazing job; if you ever heard the original mixes that I did of these songs you would run out of the dance club screaming your head off.
So I asked Mr. Krill to talk about some of the projects he has worked on over the course of his career in Music. Of course, Nick is known the world over (and over) for being in The Spinto Band, but here we'll focus on his yeoman work as recordist, engineer, and mixer.
The Rude Staircase "Sookie Jump" - engineer
i helped engineer this album way back in college. i met the singer, lynn, through mutual friends and ended up helping with almost all of the overdubs and some of the basic tracking...all in a combination of studios ranging from college stairwells to the wonderful inner ear recording. it was a pretty great experience for a youngster because the band would give me instructions like, "i want this vocal to sound like a half inch tall person is singing it inside your ear canal."
Walker Lundee "40 Love" - co-producer, engineer
these guys are a really fun pop outfit that invited me to share an amazing warehouse space in philadelphia. the recording space also had a skate ramp in it, and between takes i learned how to ride a half-pipe....although i never made it more that about halfway up the dog-gone ramp.
The Teeth "You're My Lover Now" - mixing
rest in peace teeth. it was an honor to work with these fellas. all of this was mixed in the drummer jonas' spare bedroom. when i was done mixing we packed up the whole mini mobile studio into his roommates thirty year old VW beetle and drove it back to my house.
And the Moneynotes "new cornucopia" - mixing
one of scranton PA's finest. this was a lot of fun to mix because while the skeletons of the songs and nice old time rock n' roll tunes or odd sailor type chants and gypsy music, the songs had a great deal of odd ball sounds going every which way. it was also interesting, and sometimes challenging to mix as the style of recordings varied
from song to song. some were live on a four track, some were built up with overdubs, some were the whole band pounding away as a full group.
The Minor White "Old Theatrics" - producer, engineer, mixer
another great scranton group. these fellas are an amazing stew of the beatles, wilco, and television. seeing as the aesthetic of all these groups have all been an influence on my recording ears at one time or another it was really fun to make some recordings influenced by all three.
National Eye - "The Farthest Sewer" - mixing
hey rick, remember when you emailed this to me asking if i wanted to rent a room in your house: "You'd probably end up producing our next album just because you'd be there." dreams do come true. i was able to hear a lot of these songs while they were recorded and rehearsed as they seeped up through the floor boards and heating ducts. when i finally heard the full versions blare over my loudspeakers i was on cloud nine. kind of crazy....the music was played in the basement, recorded on the first floor, and mixed on the third floor.....good effort house.
Friday, November 21, 2008
In other words, if you haven't found it within you to purchase the album by National Eye called The Farthest Shore -- if you're still uncertain that it will be the dynamondo-est listening experience you'll have this whole year (whale songs excepted), then you can dip your toes into it with this lovely thing which plays the whole album and shows you some neat pictures and looks deep down into your blouse -- all for the price of nothing!
CLICK ON THESE WORDS TO GO TO THE NATIONAL EYE FARTHEST SHORE STREAMING ALBUM PLAYER.
Thanks and compliments are owed to Corey Watson for the layout and techwork. Cash and favors are owed to Jeff Love for the artwork.
Oh also: I'm excited to get back to blogging. I threw out my shoulder and my pencil last furlough and haven't had a chance to talk about a great many things. Needles to say, NE is firing on all (four thousand seven hundred fifty twelve) cylinders, recording and laughing, and much news is to come. See you then.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Call Off The Revolution! Everything's Cool! Plus: Another Demo of a TFS Song from the NE Lab's Rubbish Bin
What I'm talking about is not merely an old man assuming the presidency, but a steely-eyed repudiation of liberty itself by forces hitherto unimagined in this nation. So I did what any sane person would do, I took to the mountains. Not to escape, mind you, but to regroup and fortify and launch the effort to reclaim freedom. And also to hike:
Well, you can imagine my relief when I stopped in the General Store at the foot of Mt. Foom (for supplies: eggs, milk, "fruit leather," paper towels) and saw a newspaper that said "GOOD PREVAILS" and so we excitedly packed our stuff and headed on back to the city.
Which is why posting has been light. Needless to say we're all thrilled to have found ourselves in this new age of hope and palpable relief, even if running around the woods with dogs and waterfalls is pretty nice. But it's time to ENGAGE, and the only place to do that is back at NEHQ in Philadelphia. Which is where this demo of Eva the Atom-Smasher was recorded way, way back.
Many of you know this song in the key of D (as it is on the album) but this one's in E flat. For you non-music scholars, that means I had a capo on the guitar for no discernible reason other than to make it slightly more difficult to play on most instruments.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Attention irony fans: this record by producer-turned-singer-turned-actor-turned-tugboat captain-turned-singer Michael Jones features NO PIANO, despite the piano you can see quite well with your own eyes right there on the cover. But this album could be called "Living Room" just as easily as "Living Music" because your living room is the perfect place to put it on and LISTEN. Rating: hhhh
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Don't Wait for the Box Set!!: Part Two In Our Unearthing of Crummier-Sounding Versions of Songs From The Farthest Shore (Doot-Doot-Doo Edition)
We've already offered up the demo for Effortless Plane, which was pretty darn different from the album version -- a fact not lost on our readers. Here's what some of you had to say:
"This is a much slower version of this song than the one on the album. Is there something wrong with my VCR?"
Linda Winston, Des Plaines, IL
"where r the drums?!?"
Edmund Softel, Battersea, London
"I have to agree with bombdroppa99: mit Sicherheit eine (längst bekannte und zugängliche) Bereicherung für ihre Studien, als Projekt ohne echte Angabe von Gründen oder Nutzen und als bloße Quelle für sinnlose Verlinkungen: eine."
Andy Conroy, Nebo, KY
"Hey Caruso, ever heard of singing lessons? Just kidding! Call me."
Admiral Cornelis Cruys, Taganrog
Good points, all. But let's move on already!
Our next primordial offering is the song Several Beaches, presented here without the benefit of Gianmarco's drums, Will's bass, Josh Newman's guitar, Doug's backups, Charlie Hall's electric piano, or decent lead vocals. Nevertheless, fans of accidental tube distortion and mid-song coughing will not be disappointed!
In other words: COMPLETISTS ONLY!
[Also included above: another great page from Jeff Love's Farthest Shore. This one looks beach-related so it feels appropriate.]
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
4:55: We peruse the Lego exhibit for "inspiration" on the advice of one of the Museum staff. Nathan Sawaya's sculptures in Lego are actually cool as all get-out, but this is a serious contest and we must hurry back to the table. Pictured below is one of his pieces.
5:01: There's nothing like looking at a crate full of Lego to drive a stake through your heart when you know you have less than three hours to make something out of it that's impressive enough to defeat the likes of The Sw!ms, The Brakes, and the Spinto Band, all of whom outnumber us and have a time-lead of a good half hour. We are determined to vanquish, however, and so we begin.
5:30: Things're looking grim. Some cheating heel has removed all of the army-fatigue-green pieces from our supply, nixing my idea for a bust of Fidel Castro. I have overconfidently left my "Hornik's Ultimate Lego Guide" at home, and we need ideas FAST. Gianmarco and Will are still AWOL.
5:39: Gretchen has hit upon the inspired idea of a dramatic 3-D depiction of The Voyage of the Vessel Vetrovka, based on Royko Fleming's famous epic poem. It's incredibly ambitious, but we didn't come here to play with toys. We came to win.
5:57: I run over on a recon mission to see what the Brakes and the Spintos have cooking. They are looking impressive, so I "accidentally" cut the power on their side of the building. For 12 minutes, they are literally building blind.
6:13: Brian from the Sw!ms suggests the lingenberry juice. Luckily, both Gretchen and I are on a strict no-juice cleansing regimen and decline his offer. It is later revealed the pitchers were spiked with dihydromorphinone hydrochloride. Several Spintos and one small child are now passed out in a wooden boat in the Viking exhibit.
6:55: Giamarco arrives. We put him directly to work on the optical illusion portion of the sculpture. He succeeds brilliantly: it looks exactly like what we wanted it to look like.
7:20: Judgment time draws near. Jon Eaton of the Spinto Band recommends a colonial era painting on display on the second floor, but is immediately escorted out of the building. My hull has just completely crumbled before my very eyes due to a poorly-constructed lego foundation. There apparently is video of me weeping over a plate of meatballs.
7:32: The Sw!ms have created a smorgasbord (Swedish!) of weird objects including a sword stabbing a burger and an elephant in a wheelchair. And an airplane, which is hard to do with legos unless you have directions. Spinto have created a gruesome and gory scene, with some kind of Revelation-style beast laying waste to a whole village of infidels. I always knew those guys were fanatics. Meanwhile, The Brakes have created a highly elaborate and fully-operational attack ship out of some deranged sci-fi nerd's worst nightmares. We have nearly fulfilled the promise of Gretchen's vision, but it takes Will's eleventh-hour arrival to complete the piece with touches of grace and beauty. Judges are already looming, taking pictures, jotting notes, being extremely pleasant. I have sweated through my fourth shirt.
8:00: The Awards Ceremony. Moment of truth. And the truth is... Everybody wins! The Sw!ms especially win but also everybody wins. I feel relief that the conclusion wasn't too vicious but then again this was always about getting people to visit the really great exhibit at the Swedish Historical Museum, not glory.
All in all, a lovely evening. I couldn't recommend the museum more, it's really nice and located in that lovely park down by all the stadiums on Pattison Ave. So don't go there during a game, but do go there.
Oh the things we do for music!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Meanwhile, The Children's Television Workshop refuses to commit to this great idea we had about an island amusement park featuring furry creatures and loud guitar music. (Apparently the folks at CTW hate the notion of making millions of dollars.)
So when a promotional opportunity comes along and all the pieces fall into place it's a Very Special Thing and that V.S.T. is called "synergy" -- a word that combines the Greek root "syn" which means "together" and the Latin-American "ergy" which means "good timing."
Which brings us to tonight's synergical event where members of National Eye compete in a no-holds-barred competition against The Spinto Band, the Sw!ms, and The Brakes for Lego-Building Supremacy.
I'm just kidding. Wait, no I'm not! We really are doing a Lego-off with a bunch of other bands! Tonight at the American Swedish Historical Museum in South Philadelphia!
The Spintos are of course also in the midst of a whirlwind promo binge in support of their great new album Moonwink. You'll hear music by all these bands tonight at this crazy event but not played live because we'll all be too busy making our insane Lego stuff.
And don't tell the other bands, but I've already drawn up plans for what we're gonna build and between you and me and the moon, WE ARE GOING TO WIN.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
But yeah, so I thought I'd change things up a little bit with this nifty recording from a while back where we played in Atlanta, Georgia (birthplace of Candice Bergen) at a place called The Earl (birthplace of Earl Palmer, drumming brother of Carl). I think this was on tour for The Meter Glows, if you can believe that! Or maybe it was just for fun.
At any rate, fun is what we had, as you can tell by this F-U-N rendition of the song "Between Sleep and Sleep" which was written by Jeff Love and would often feature him throwing his guitar down and doing "moves" in front of the stage to the delight of our Southern fans.
So here it is. Don't forget to enjoy the heck out of it!
photo courtesy of Freshout Media and Horse Fancy Magazine
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I have decided to take this trip to the beach last Thursday, and do much bodysurfing in anticipation for today's Farthest Shore release day extra-specialness!
Please deliver this note to my girlfriend of most girlfriends if I should (have) perish(ed) in the roiling seas!
It's Finally Here: TFS In Stores Now (and by "Stores" I Don't Mean the Actual Kind I Mean the Futuristic Kind That Are On Your Computer)
Monday, October 13, 2008
Just thought I'd let the kids know that you can pick up the unabridged audio book version of Ursula K. LeGuin's adaptation of National Eye's album "The Farthest Shore" from iTunes, which is also where you can pick up National Eye's album "The Farthest Shore" starting tomorrow.
Next best album: National Eye, The Farthest Shore.
National Eye’s second album, 2006’s Roomful of Lions, featured lots of friends familiar from local outfits. The upcoming The Farthest Shore repeats the feat with guest spots by members of Dr. Dog, Buried Beds, the Capitol Years, Like Moving Insects and Mitch Fiction, not to mention a string trio. While the old National Eye
regularly swapped instruments and singers, the band’s now anchored by the songs
of co-founder Rick Flom, and goes more for baroque folk grandeur than
bedroom-recorded psych. Flom describes The Farthest Shore as “a storybook album … our version of Harry Nilsson’s The Point, but probably not for kids since it’s kinda dark and scary.” Between the Bowie-esque preview track “Pure Film” and National Eye’s recent song-by-song rendition of the album at Johnny Brenda’s,
hopes are awfully high for this record, and deservedly so.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
For instance, this version has no drums on it or trumpet or violins or electric guitars or even bass guitar and it also sort of sounds like crap. But a good sort of crap and if there's one thing I've learned in my 56 years in the entertainment industry it's this: people love demos of songs they've never heard before.
So without further ado I submit to you the "Simon and Garfunkel" version of Effortless Plane.
I failed in math and science so please let us know if this doesn't work or works but in a way that is stupid.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Because without people not only would music not be listened to, it wouldn't be played. And what is music when it's not played? I'll tell you what it is: it's not much.
So over the years the people in National Eye have called up other people and said, "There's this music sitting here not being played so would you please come over to the house and play it and if you do I will give you some pizza and beer and possibly wine if you're picky."
And they did, a lot of the time. So here today we're going to give you the rundown on all the people who helped in making our new album The Farthest Shore the thing it is. Which is: a really great album for you to enjoy.
So let's meet the musickers!
Will Baggott: A millionaire in his own mind, he played bass and guitar and shook things and engineered and all kinds of other things.
Gianmarco Cilli: Go see him play with his band at Johnny Brenda's on Oct 17th and when you do go up to him and say "The blog told me to tell you that you're super and you did a great job playing bass, guitar, singing, and drumming on your album The Farthest Shore, available from Park the Van Records on October 14th which was just a few days ago because we're talking in the future right now." If he doesn't believe you, buy him a scotch.
Richard Flom: Him is me. We played ball together in college, but I forget which ball. Sung, strummed, etc.
Douglas Kirby: Oh the keyboards he played! Oh the singing he did! Oh the guitars we'll go! His favorite old time saying is, "An indictment is not a conviction."
Jeff Love: Sang and played some guitar and also did the cover art and lots of the art you see on this blog and some of the blogging you also see on this blog. Speaking of seeing, this guy looks great in a tuxedo!
Gretchen Lohse: She did violins and violas and viocals and broke down barriers by being the first Gretchen ever on a National Eye album. Some call her "The Phantom" due to her impeccable manners.
Sir Kyle Lloyd: When not playing drums on this album and in the fabulous Capitol Years, Kyle Lloyd enjoys bicycling, acrostics, and being surveilled by the FBI!
Shai Son of Eli: As they say, "Time flies when you're having fun." And "flies" is the word I would use to describe my friend Shai, who's also in the aforementioned Caps and played guitar on TFS. Oops, I meant "fun."
Charlie Hall: Did drums and the electric wurlipianitzer. Also Head Coach of the Philadelphia Silver Ages, winners of the 2007 Sadly Cup.
Thomas Bendel: Drummed on TFS because he's a drummer but he's many other things as well, such as a great human being and the very model of a modern Major-General.
Todd Starlin: Blew trumpet and vocals. You'll remember Mr. Starlin from his appearances on Who Wants to Marry The Queen of England? and Top Waiter. Just kidding he's never been on TV.
Joshua Newman: Every good boy deserves Josh! Which might just be my opinion but 10,000 guitars agree! Particularly the one that he played so well on our album. He also sang on a song.
Rory Connell: Along with Flom and Newman, Connell plays in western swing combo Mitch Fiction and the Shirts [sic] and starred in the legendary rock group Raccoon. Sometimes he gets that starry look in his eyes.
Nathan Lohse: Played the cello which if you don't know what that is you're in luck because I'm about to tell you: it's a long tube with smaller rubber tubes coming out of it and the whole thing resolves into a skull at the bottom where a tiny whale lives and shoots water out of a window which makes a sound like this: "Bzzzzzzzz." It's almost impossible to tune, but sounds great when Nathan plays it because he's a pro.
Zach Miller: This guy has been known to play keys in Dr. Dog but he's also great at playing gypsy-style guitar even though you'd never guess it because he doesn't look like a gypsy, he looks like a heckuva person, which is exactly what he is.
Janka Perniss: A rabid sports fan, Ms Perniss also loves movies. She went to see 15 of 'em last week and that's not including the ones she watched at home. She played a lovely violin on the album and teaches karate to the homeless.
Adam Arcuragi: A is for A. D is for damn. A is for alright. M is for man. A is for and. R is for really. C is for croons. U is for unlike. R is for Rod. A is for Argent's. G is for giant. I is for iguana.
That's all of them, I think. If you played on The Farthest Shore and were not mentioned here please write a nasty letter to:
4567 Easter Dr. Suite #5
Eau Claire, WI 52554
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Actually this post isn't about Doug - it's about the magic of Gianmarco and crotches. Somehow those two disparate things always combine to make a NE press photo. Check out Will's hand in the first photo, and if that second photo were a video, you'd see why I'm making such an odd face...
P.S. My scanner is totally broke, so while this post doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the upcoming TFS release (10/14/08!!!), it does provide an excuse for me to post two more photos of myself on the internet.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
A sentimental favorite. It feels miraculous in my hands. I got it, and many others, at Union Station in Chicago some time around 1986. My mom gave me a few bucks to find something to read and this is the sort of stuff I hauled back.
This issue of It, The Living Colossus has an Evel Knievel ad on the back and one of the others had an ad for ORCA! on the back which I spent almost as much time looking at as the comics themselves.
In intend to take a picture of myself reading this comic book in the future (2019) and posting it on this blog. Perhaps I'll do that this evening (2008).
Comics will always have a deep and weird influence on the music made in our house. This particular one has been particularly satisfying and inspiring lately.
Should you ever find this comic, do check out the insane splash page right at the beginning. It's a picture of a monster war. I don't know who the artist is (I'll check) but whoever did this artwork is a bigger genius than Einstein, Yeats and Dennis the Menace combined.
Here's some information from my set of encyclopedias I bought in the early 90s:
It, the Living Colossus was an immense 100-foot-tall stone humanoid statue constructed by Moscow sculptor Boris Petrovski to protest against the oppressive nature of the Soviet government. It became animated initially by the mind transferral of an alien Kigor and rampaged briefly through Moscow after being attacked by the military. When the rescue party arrived, the Kigor abandoned the Colossus and returned to its home-world, leaving It inanimate.
disability, and the statue was rendered inanimate.
The statue was later transported to Los Angeles and reanimated by the Kigors,
who used it to attack the U.S. army. The Kigors were defeated by Hollywood
special effects designer Bob O'Bryan, a man with a physical
O'Bryan was later confined to a wheelchair. The statue was stolen by the evil
Doctor Vault, who reduced It in size from 100 feet to 30 feet. It was then
animated by the mind transferral of O'Bryan, and It battled Bault's minions and
It then battled Granitor and alien invaders from the planet Stonus V. Alongside Fin
Fang Foom, It defeated the invaders. However, It then battled Fin Fang Foom and became controlled by Doctor Vault.
Doctor Vault! Fin Fang Foom!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Here is an unused poster created by the very talented Large Mammal art company. At least I'm 88% sure that it was Large Mammal. If it was not, I offer my sincere apologies to whoever designed it. If it was, I offer my sincere apologies to Large Mammal for not clearly remembering the fine work they did.
And fine work it is -- the one we did end up using was also fine but I didn't happen to find it while cleaning my desk top this morning, so I'm unable to post it here now so that we can compare and contrast the two and decide which one would win in a race. Art Race!
As for the show itself: I don't remember a ton about that either. I remember that Raccoon was great and that it was sad it was their last show, but it was so long ago I can't remember exactly which songs they played though I bet they can and also probably Doug.
I also can't remember what songs the Teeth played that night but those were the days when they were playing "Peter Goes to 43st St" an awful lot so it's a good bet they played that. Which reminds me: Raccoon definitely played "Thick and the Thin." I just un-forgot that now because both songs are on The Christmas City EP which you should buy on the Park the Van page right now. It's super, and will bring back many memories if you're anything like me.
But one memory it won't bring back (especially if you're anything like me) is what songs National Eye played that night. If it was a baseball game you could count on us having played "The Star-Spangled Banner" but since it wasn't, we most likely did not.
One thing I don't forget is that this show was the first time that Jonas played with the Teeth on the stage. But that's cheating because I had it written on my hand.
All in all, a memorable poster from a memorable night.
Friday, September 26, 2008
And also this video is totally amazing. It was sent to me by a friend because we were talking about something and it seemed appropriate and so I thought "Ah, cool, Joni doing Woodstock at Isle of Wight, nice" but then it goes into something weird and kind of wonderful.
(I would "embed" it or whatever but it's Friday and I'm tired and don't know how.)
I'm a sucker for language like this. He's clearly a jerk and was probably an nuissance to his friends and family for years before and after this, but it takes a special clarity of purpose to come up with a line like "paint the fence invisible" in the middle of a mescaline-pitched harangue.
I'm also heavily, heavily, heavily into Joni's story about the Hopi Ceremonial Dance. Enjoy this little clip and also loan me a camera so I can take a picture of this dinosaur bone. My guess is: brontosaurus fibula
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Right here you have a picture of the people who will be playing the show TONIGHT THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 25th AT JOHNNY BRENDA'S TAVERN AND EATERY ON FRANKFORD AND GIRARD, PHILADELPHIA PA!
From left to awesome: Sir Kyle Lloyd, Richard Flom, Gretchen Lohse, Shai Son of Eli, and William Baggott.
You'll notice Gianmarco's not in the picture which is too bad because he's off on a business trip. He will be sorely missed at this show but don't worry because we can all go see him on October 17th when he plays at JBs. Remind me to remind you about that.
Anyway, also playing tonight will be Drink Up Buttercup and Throw Me The Statue. Please feel free to fill the comments with suggestions for alternative names for our band that better match the bill, such as Get Thee To A Nunnery! or Buy Me A Poodle! or Eat This Soup, Roger! or something like that.
But both bands are really great and it'll be a superfun night or my name's not Indiana Jones!
Buy tickets here (great name for a band!) : http://www.johnnybrendas.com/calendar-detail-ajax.php?ev_id=576&height=500&width=550
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
You're a hell of a state! But where are all your computers? How am I supposed to provide invigorating, up-to-the-minute blog content when every hardware store for a thousand miles around is full of nails and hammers and helpful staff but no computers?
Keep in mind, this is a hypothetical question, Indiana, since being within your verdant borders is not the reason I've failed to post in the last 24 hours; it was actually nothing more and nothing less than a medical situation the doctors are calling "serious, but interesting."
The worst is behind me, however, and there will be more to come today, Indiana. Keep up the good work, and don't let nothing get you down!
All my loving,
--A Firm Supporter
Monday, September 22, 2008
So then my dear companion said "I think I have a walkman" and then at that moment it was like a tidal wave swept over me and contained within all the water was this idea which I didn't actually have but my dear companion did and this is what it was: instead of an iPod we'll use a Walkman.
Which was great but didn't solve the Roy Spinto issue AT ALL. So then our cat came in the room and started doing his usual cat thing. And then, right at that moment, it was like a grand piano fell from the sky and right onto my head and on the piano where the music usually goes was a piece of paper with this great idea on it. Because that was when my dear companion said, "Instead of that Roy person, it could be our cat Harpo."
Which brings us to this contest we're having! Basically what you do is make up a mask or a robot or whatever (actually, don't make a robot -- that would be terrifying) based on the appearance of our amazing cat. We will choose the one that is better than all of the others and then a Walkman portable cassette player will be ALL YOURS. If yours is the one we pick.
Harpo is actually a very private cat and would rather not have his photograph all over the internet but I can describe him for you. He is 12.5 lbs., has whiskers, stripes, orange nose, a tail, and has exterminated THREE RATS in the past few months alone. That should be enough to get you started. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
When you have completed your Harpo Mask or whatever (again, no robots), take a picture of yourself with it, holding up a copy of that day's newspaper, and a hand-painted sign that says "We Love the National Eye Cat Face Walkman Contest '08!." We encourage you to provide a pleasant backdrop for the photo as well (waterfall, Big Ben, etc.), so it's not too boring.
DO NOT email this photo to email@example.com as that account has been hacked. Email it to feedback [AT] nationaleye.com.
Please note that we're not really sure where the Walkman is or if it works. You may be required to come over and look for it -- but look at it this way: a few hours out of your life is a small price to pay for the gift of music anywhere you go.
But it's not really about the Walkman, is it? No! It's about the excitement of contest participation! So get to it, people!
Friday, September 19, 2008
So here we have the first of what I assume will be many, many notes from someone who has identified himself as "Venerable Character Actor M. Emmet Walsh."
I'll let you come to your own conclusions about the veracity of that (imdb says Walsh died in 1999 but those bastards will say anything), though it hardly matters. Whatever his true indentity, he makes some very good points.
Since it's easier to read when you have the piece of (slightly damp) paper in your hand, I will transcribe:
Dear National Eye,
You blog is good but boring. [It] should have lots more of things. Things like: songs, cartoons and others that I thought of last night but forgot.
The note itself is unsigned, but the return address was neatly typed on the envelope.
All I can say to you M. is: duly noted! There are some technical things we're working out (for instance: my money-counting machine now adds the word "clams" to every total which is unprofessional and childish), but I think the multimedia aspect of this blog will get ramped up in a big way very soon.
Please send all further magic marker correspondence to Park the Van Records in Schwenksville, PA. People are getting shot up there by hopped-up rent-a-cops, but there's no reason to assume the mail service isn't in perfect order.
Peace in our time.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
1. A Russian ballerina with a major gambling addiction is mistaken for a horse and wins the Kentucky Derby. She falls in love with the jockey (Federico) but he is sent to the Gulag where he loses the sense of touch. The music: spare, metallic
2. A crime saga set in the mid-90s. A young athlete from Menasha is roped into a world of violence and despair when he agrees to smuggle $4,000,000,000,000,000,017 worth of diesel fuel from Calgary to Oaxaca in order to secure the release of his kid sister, held captive by the nefarious mob queen Melanie Gestapo. But it's not just soccer hooligans he has to worry about; also on his trail are the CIA, the DEA, the FBI, the KGB, two freebasing maniacs from the NEA, the (reformed) Temptations, and all manner of traffic gridlock. The music: plaintive, hard-hitting, woozy
3. A snapshot of the day in the life of a small town in Everyland, U.S.A., population: 100. That is until a dark stranger rides into town on a brand-new motorcycle. The music: C&W, slavic
4. An exciting young television actor is selected as the representative of Surface Earth to go on a mission to the planet's core, where a civilization has been discovered. Despite his winning smile, he is treated with suspicion by the corelings (who look like a cross between butterflies and a sewing machine), until he teaches them the magic of Dance (the Twist, mostly). The music: prolonged dissonance
5. A rock'n'roll trip through the true history of telescopics from Hans Lippershey to Hubble! The music: oldies
6. A "funnier," musical re-telling of the Battle of Algiers. It sounds like a joke but I really thought this would work. Until I saw the Battle of Algiers (which also sounds like a joke), at which point I realized it would not work at all. But that didn't stop me from wanting to write a whole bunch of "Battle of" songs. As rock fans know, "Battle" is one of our better words.
7. What The Sun Thinks: a look at our world today (from matters little to huge) as imagined from the Sun's point of view. In this "imagining," the Sun is basically a giant fireball without much appreciation for nuance or subtlety, but he still manages to make the occasional penetrating observation. Toward the end, the Moon offers its point of view which is similarly one-dimensional but a lot colder. The music: hyper-kinetic, drum machines
8. A political thriller in which a U.S. Senator is hypnotized by the leader of an underground cabal (S.K.R.E.E.O.R.C.H. -- I forget what it stood for) and runs for president on a bizarre platform involving a giant black dome that would cover the entire continent and maintain a constant temperature of 45 degrees. He wins the Democratic primary but is defeated in the general election by the candidate from a strange new party called The Ostrich Wizars. (Not a typo.) The story concludes on an unsettling note. The music: brash, militaristic
10. The Jet Teens. This one is far too crazy and complicated to even begin to explain, but probably would have been the most workable of the bunch. As I recall, the Jet Teens were meant to be a sort of ultraradical-ized, mind-exploded version of a group of outcasts I barely knew growing up in Wisconsin. They were into comical anarchy and the occult (magic tricks) and loved Tony Iommi and Tony Stark with equal fervor. Weird people. (The title seems mundane but don't worry: it's a play on words on a French movie I never saw.) Anyway, the "story" started there and then went deep into the blackwoods of madness. The music: terrible
Maybe I should've combined them all.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
New Vistas, The Contemporary Scene, Mighty Bummers, Flagrant Self-Abuse, The Death of the Sport Coat, and a Question of Commerce
We're not exactly sure what shapes this thing will take, but you can rest assured there will be a variety of detours into total irrelevancy and probably outright craziness but then these are the rights and rightful duties of the blogger today. What was the last blog you read that didn't seem to be written by an insomniac with a taste for the deranged? No, don't tell me. I'm sure it would bore me to tears.
In order to keep things moving and somewhat on the beam of reality, we hope to use this space for a variety of pictures and songs and sounds, many of them directly related to the Farthest Shore project, some of them indirectly, some of them not at all.
Because this Farthest Shore thing we're talking about is essentially an abandoned project. Which sounds worse than it is but this is a blog and if there's anywhere in today's mad, mad, etc. world where honesty rules with terror and vengeance, it's in the blogs. But what I mean to say is, this thing that ended up being a bunch of songs for you to listen to was going to be a whole heap of things over a whole heap of time.
Initially it was somewhat foolishly envisioned as some kind of little movie made of paper -- not quite animation but also not not quite animation, some kind of thing that I still mean to invent or innovate one day (watch this space!) inspired in no small part by Jeff Love's own weird paper movies. Anyway it was going to be about some kind of messed up war between animals and men and have at its center a hapless man named Idiot posessed of inexplicable and mostly uncontrollable magic.
At least half of the songs that comprise The Farthest Shore were written specifically to accompany and comment obliquely upon the action. There was also much to be said, both in song and visually, about the perils of sea and air travel (travel of any kind, really) and was intended to go completely off the rails in a section exploring the theme of demented artistic ambition.
Which seems awfully appropriate in retrospect. The movie idea was probably bad to begin with but then it sort of settled down into the idea of a BOOK of some sort. A book that just so happened to have an album of songs riding around with it. And of course the book would feature a number of incredible pictures by Jeff.
Well, it turns out I'm too crazy and disorganized to do a book at this point in my life. Or at least THAT book. It went through a variety of batty phases and Jeff worked hard and came up with some truly lovely drawings (many of which you'll find here, eventually) but before long, my focus was all gone, I couldn't pin down anything, structure was disaster and pretty soon I hated the whole idea.
Luckily, along the way we managed to record this album The Farthest Shore which doesn't need a book at all.
Which is great (as you'll find out on October 14th) but also part of the problem. Music is what National Eye knows how to do and so while I'm spinning my wheels with this increasingly complicated mumbo jumbo, not only was the music done, but more music was coming fast and furious down the brain pike. In the time since TFS was completed a whole new National Eye record (in theory) has been written and much of it recorded. Meanwhile, Gianmarco and Doug had completed beautiful albums of their own, Jeff was rapidly churning out incredible work that had nothing to do with elephants or cats or ships or Idiots, and Will invented the gamma-saw.
It felt time, at some point, to bid a no-regrets goodbye to all that other hoopla and let the alb speak for itself.
So what this site will be is a kind of graveyard for the high-falutin' side of The Farthest Shore -- as well as a Wake for a Silly Idea. But wakes are fun, as many of you may know -- I went to one at a Whitecastle restaurant, before it became associated with multi-ethnic drug use (this was 1991), and it's one of the better nights I've had -- so we should have a lively, exciting time. And I do believe The Farthest Shore is a bang-up album with great work not just from National Eyers like me and Doug and Jeff and Gianmarco and Will but a whole host of other incredible human beings, to whom I hope to introduce to readers down the line.
So here it comes. We hope to keep the stuff coming fast and furious and hopefully most of it will be easier to digest than this particular screed (you skimmed, didn't you? me too). Also I'm sure there will be some technononsense to work out along the way so Please Excuse Our Mess!
And of course, jeez, thanks for your indulgence. We hope you enjoy what's ahead.