Imaginary Puppet Theatre Set Design Sketch

Its All Falling into Place for This Weekends Photo Shoot

Today I have a song experiment – this is a version where I played guitar, bass, piano, lap steel and mandolin:

And here is just the guitar – which is the instrument I used to write the song:

Just the guitar

Wow – adding the other instruments changed the song to a point where it sounds just like another song I wrote a while back. Verrrry interesting – and something I just learned about writing, playing and arranging. It also reminds me why taking a really roughed in song to a band to arrange could be the better way to go – at least in some cases, and depending on how good the players are.

Cool beans . . .

My favorite part of these photo shoots is the set design and build. I have everything ready for #4 in the 666 Halloween Series. Today I finished the bookshelves and I built a small table to go next to Ol’ Chrome Domes high back chair.

The (spineless) Protagonist

Our Protagonist Needs a Chair (and a spine)

Today was great for a Monday. I was lamenting the end of the weekend late yesterday (my weekends are as close to perfect as you can get). But work was great today. Crazy how I still like work after 40 years in I.T. Guess I chose the right career!

Set Design for This Weekends Photo Shoot

OK, ol’ “Floppy Disk” needs a spine so he can sit in this chair (well, start of what will become a chair).

He will be the star of the next installment of the 666 Series. Stay in tune, er tubed, er tuned…..

Halloween 666 Series: Part 3 – The Death of Radio

When I thought about The Raven and quite a few poems and stories that Poe wrote where he suffers the loss of his young wife, I asked myself if I have lamented anything like that in my life. The answer is luckily, no. My relatives who passed lived a good life and a full life – so while sad, it felt natural and normal. I know from experience – when a young persons life is cut short that that is a much different story.

On a much lesser scale, there are era’s in my life that are over – which caused a wee bit of mourning on my part. The Era of Radio is one of them. Sure, it’s only a thing, and only technology I suppose – but it’s kind of interesting how important radio was in my life. It had serious social component that some young people have never or will ever experience. So – I guess I am lucky I got to experience radio as I did.

Today’s Imaginary Puppet Theater show highlights the death of radio coupled with Raoul Hausmanns 1918 Dada work, “The Spirit of Our Age”. He lamented post WWI technology and that senseless war. He lamented how the killing machines (tanks and mustard gas) plus war sparked by greedy capitalism seemed to dehumanize making people just a number.

The Full Cast

I’d argue that Social Media is our eras “Soft Killing Machine”. It didn’t cause the Idiocracy we are experiencing in the US, but it sure enabled losers to have a voice and make a continued concerted effort to ruin the (arguably) greatest democracy the earth has seen.

Our Focus Today is on the Ghostorola Radio . . .
Tuner Head with Implied Tubes
Our Favorite Witch Emcee Introduces Our Singer
Singin’ The Blues
Our Sound Man is Pleased With What He Hears
The Raven Himself
There’s Room for Everyone and Everything!
Your Usher for Tonight’s Show
Radio: Gone, But Not Forgotten


The Ghostess in the Machine

Tomorrow will be an exciting day in the Imaginary Puppet Theatre. Photo shoot number three in the 666 series will go down. Be There or be square.

Ghostorola (shown above) will be a central character in the “show”. She’s a real beauty.

The theme will be The Death of Radio. I’ve recently come around to the thought that like a human, things also have a planned obsolescence. While my love of radio surpasses almost any thing (emphasis on thing), there are some parallels to changes I’ve made in my hobbies. With a surprise!

While I got out of Ham Radio for good over a year ago, I got back into music, and have been loving my lap steel. Full circle happened – the Lap Steel and pickups were invented by a Ham Radio Operator. The Lap Steel was the predecessor to the electric guitar. One of many interesting characters was Alvino Rey. Google him. There are several others. Electro magnetic experimenters.

Commercial Radio was proceeded by Hams goofing around on the air, some playing music. KDKA in Pittsburgh was supposedly the first commercial radio station, and it fired up in 1922, the year my father was born.

I’m feeling the connections between the Dada artists in 1918 – post WWI and their pandemic and ours. My grandparents immigrated from Stuttgart to Newark, NJ in 1926. Radio started in 1922, and the Dada sentiment that the mechanization led to a depersonalization of the community. In our time, we mirror that with Reality TV (The Apprentice) who spawned the worst president ever. Virtual Communities. Now how bizarre is that? Fake news – even worse “Fake Reality”. Irony nested in layers like a Russian Doll.

But Social Media is our Age of Mechanization in a way. That and Drones killing civilians and geez, its a LOT more like 100 Years Ago than I had expected. Social Media seems like the death of human interaction in the flesh.

Twitter and Facebook are Mustard Gas.


Death Whistle Express

Aztec Monkey Death Whistle

I came across a video explaining and blowing an Aztec Death Whistle. If you want a Halloween Fright, there it is. It’s amazing. Search for it on YouTube.

Today’s song was written with the three trees I planted a few years back in my mind’s eye – and this year they have the best fall colors yet. Gorgeous.

I’m a sucker for fall colors – so much so, I subscribe to the Maine Foliage Report, which is sent via email starting September 15th and goes through part or all of October.

Fall colors are super in New England, but they only last 6 weeks max. Here we don’t have the overwhelming color, but what we do have lasts until Christmas. If you like pockets of awesome stretched out for months, Lamorinda is a great place.

The temperature was only 70 today. Just a perfect day. I see up in far Northern California and Oregon they expect an early Fall storm with (hopefully) a good soaking.

I can’t wait for the rain.

Toasted Oak

Todays song is a real experiment – where I tried several different ways to play the Lap Steel. Its not my best song – but I did learn how the Lap Steel is way more than (my old wrong opinion) that it was just an accompaniment instrument. The Lap Steel can be played as a zither or harp as well as guitar and slide guitar. Its WAY more versatile than I ever thought, and I was mesmerized at how you can try all kinds of crazy things on it. Some ideas don’t work, but there’s a lot of room to stumble on “happy accidents”.

In a word, its FUN.


A Very Loose Interpretation of The Raven

I’ve been doing my usual annual reading of Edgar Allan Poe this (almost) Autumn, and I can see clearly that I identify much more with his poetry than his short stories. I love his poetry – its just so much easier to read and flows in a way where I can stay with it.

His short stories are awesome, but it requires that I double down and concentrate on / understand each sentence.

He did write using a device he called “Unity of Effect” – so that is what throws me – his “economy of words” almost ends up being encoded in a dialect of English I’m unfamiliar with. Of course, Reading Makes Perfect….. I think these short stories are so [eloquent, efficient, dense] that they end up cutting too close to the bone – where I feel I’m reading the ravings of a mad man. Therein lies the rub.

His poetry hits the mark for me because there is breathing room – you know the guy is mad (crazy?) but for some reason it never crosses that lunatic fringe line that I feel his stories do. I will re-read his short stories and see if I can better understand his approach.

He had a very sad life, but did create great works including (to my great surprise) scientific writing, including his take on The Big Bang Theory at a time when others were also just starting to write about it.

Anyway, Tomorrows (second) installment will be (loosely) based on Nevermore. I might even do two versions paying homage to The Raven.

Stay tuned.

The Face That Launched A Thousand Chips

Lady Barnacle (aka Sally Mae)

There is a band that is just awesome – they are called “Lord Huron”. Run – don’t walk to listen to them. Check out “Mine Forever” on YouTube. Now, THAT takes alt-country and alt-roots and even Dead Country and adds a Western twist – a combo of several things – surf, spaghetti western movie theme, and is a stew of just the perfect ingredients.

I have been “absorbing” music that I have been listening to – and then trying to emulate their sound. It wasn’t really a conscious decision – I listened to all of the Dead Country Radio YouTube shows that is posted – and next thing you know – my Thinline Telecaster with its country and rockabilly sound became my main squeeze for the entire month of August. I think when you listen intensely and intently to something – that it turns something on in the brain – and you want to play what is bottled up in the old coconut.

This morning, I found my wife’s acoustic guitar from the 70’s – and I wrote this song on the living room chair and then had to record it. Then I added a Telecaster part and then lap steel. Later in the day – after my bike ride and weight lifting at the gym – and some really fun work on the Imaginary Puppet Theatre – where I painted a GREAT Harvest Moon, I added the bass and violin.

I never copy any band – I morph it and bastardize it to my own style. This ended up being a longer “jam” than usual. It was just too much fun . . .

She was the belle of the ball
Made of paper and clay
Exquisite in every way
Lovely Sally Mae

Men sailed the seven seas
To court her every day
Exquisite in every way
Lovely Sally Mae

So close and Yet so far
Her suitors held at bay
Exquisite in every way
Lovely Sally Mae


She was the one
That got away
But one that never was
Made of paper and clay
Exquisite Sally Mae

Edgar Allan Poe and Autumn

Edgar Allan Poe With Friends

I have a book of the Complete Works of Poe, and each Autumn I read from it. The stories and poetry just seem to fit like a glove in Autumn. Partly because of Halloween, partly due to the metaphor of earth going into a Winter Slumber. It works for both hemispheres, actually, but Halloween is certainly a Northern Hemisphere tradition.

Its funny, the first story I read last night was “The Power of Words”, which is set with two Greek Mythological like characters, Oinos (one) and Agathos (good). The story is based on their discussion of how earth was created, the search of truth, knowledge and happiness and the earth’s end. Very interestingly, he intimates the big bang theory where The Creator sets off an initial creation and then, its up to the living beings to evolve.

A few posts ago I mentioned the exact same thing, so maybe it’s synchronicity? Coincidence? In any case – pretty cool and fun.

Poe died at age 40 – 10 years before Darwin published his Theory of Evolution, and so while it seems like Darwin might have influenced Poe, it is more likely a coincidence, and that searching for life’s beginning and what the universe was is more likely. It must have been what people were thinking back then the Industrial Revolution was between 1760 and 1840 – so you can call that the first tech wave I suppose. I read a book about the Transit of Venus that happened in and around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – so its cool to note that that happened even before America became America. But I digress.

Poe offered a lecture that attempted to solve Olbers Paradox, which is basically about the darkness between stars and why the night sky isn’t full of star light. There’s much more to this, so Google it – its fascinating. Darwin approached evolution from a more biological perspective – together it’s fascinating stuff.

I knew that Poe was the “inventor” of the American “detective” short story, that he had a sad tormented life, that his mother and father died when he was very young and then wife died early as well. He also struggled trying to make a living as a writer and then Alcohol and drugs.

I did not know how interested he was in science, but I’m very impressed.

Knowing more about him helps me better understand his writing, which sometimes can be hard to follow. For example, in the case of The Power of Words I did not get that the title is tied to one of the last sentences, where he basically equates the Big Bang first “vibration” to how when you speak a word its a sound vibration. More importantly how powerful the written word is. A written treatise or theory can be quite earth shaking.

And that makes so much sense. Whether it be the Bible, US Constitution or Bill of Rights or Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, these are written with words that a phrase in this short story mentions could be considered Heresy.

Yeah, Poe was surely a genius. Imagine the world where Darwin, Poe and Lincoln were born in the same year, and Charles Dickens a few years later.

Headier times than our recent prophecies shared through the parables of Honey Boo Boo, Jersey Shore and The Kardashians ……

Todays Song Uses a VST (virtual) Synth based on Bucla’s Music Box – a Fantastic Invention

Yeah – I’ll choose science vs. seance . . . .

Twelve String Autumn

My Beloved Gretsch 12 String Guitar

I found more little hints of fall along my bike ride today. I also cut and painted what will become the Imaginary Puppet Theatre full moon with bats from a few blog posts ago. Big excitement here in Orinda this holiday weekend! Man, its so nice when you’re in your own world and loving it.

Today’s song is part of a love affair I’m having with my 12 String guitar because it somehow is lush like the Fall Colors.

Self Portrait – hahaha

I’ll do another photo shoot Sunday – it will be an early Halloween post, then I will probably do a Thanksgiving “pageant” set and finally Christmas. Stay tuned.