Monday, June 21, 2010

They've gone and taken him away, boo-hoo

Today, just now, like 20 minutes ago, I learned that the Dr. Demento Show went off the air on June 6, 2010. You may recall from a previous post that I grew up listening to the Dr. Demento Show every Sunday night. It was like church, but funnier. That's not to say that church wasn't funny, it just wasn't “ha-ha” funny. I haven't listened to the Dr. Demento Show since I was probably 14. It hasn't been syndicated anywhere I've lived since then. For all intents and purposes, this show died for me over a decade ago.

Still, I'm crushed.

Radio is a personal medium. It's piped into your head. You can experience it with your eyes closed. It becomes very intimate, especially late at night. It's you, the DJ, the music and the static. Sorry if I'm getting a little purple in my writing. I love radio. I'm a product of the radio. I was barely parented, and I didn't get a TV in my room until well into high school. Radio was all I had. Radio and books – but I can barely write, nevermind read.

The death of a radio show is something that affects me deeply. The thought that another two hours of broadcast time can be chewed up by a glorified iPod Shuffle makes me really miserable. Losing a radio show is like losing a friend. A friend who talks to you – You – every night before bed.

Podcasting has taken the place of the syndicated radio. I listen to podcasts before bed, on my commute, when I'm cleaning. Even when Adam Carolla had his nationally-syndicated morning radio show, I'd wait until the show was over, download the podcast and listen to that. No commercials, no breaks, no interruptions. Sadly, I'm fairly certain that that behavior is what's killing terrestrial radio. I listen to the podcast of Tony Kornheiser's Washington DC local radio show. They pay the bills by doing live commercial reads and incorporating them into the show. Next time I'm in the DC area, I plan to stop at Bagel City at 12119 Rockville Pike. I can call them at 301 231 8080. I've heard that address and phone number every weekday for about three years now, and damned if it doesn't make me want to eat their home-made rye bread and beautifully decorated smoked fish or deli platters.

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I learned about the passing of the Dr. Demento Show from an interview I heard today on NPR. It was really, really, really fucking depressing. Dr. Demento sounded, at best, defeated. I was listening to a nearly 70-year-old man being interviewed about how he was more or less forced into retirement. It was like watching the clip of Groucho performing Lydia the Tattooed Lady on the Dick Cavett show – it looked like it took Groucho a week to gin up the energy to perform a song that was basically muscle memory. Similarly, at the end of the interview, Dr. Demento signs off with his standard “Stay deeeeeeeee-mented!” But it wasn't the same. It was sad.

The Dr. Demento Radio Show is dead, but the Doctor is still in. He will continue to record a weekly show, more or less a podcast, available to stream for a fee. I'd like to encourage everybody to do that. Stream the show, give your money to a quality product.

Sadly, I don't think I'm going to do the same. It's not a matter of being cheap or broke. I'll pay to be entertained, and the price is low enough that even though I'm kinda-sorta broke, I can certainly afford it once in a while. The real problem is I just haven't got the inclination to sit at my computer and stream the show. I've been spoiled by the convenience of podcasts. I want to listen to it WHERE I WANT TO BECAUSE I AM UNREASONABLE.

The other thing is... well, I'm... a grown up. I'm not sure the wacky noises and squeaky horns and Whimsical Will's Demented News speaks to me like it did when I was in middle school. In fact, I know it doesn't. I still love the music. I still love the Doctor. I'm just not sure I love the show.

Fuck, I'm old.

Stay deeeeeee-mented.

Dr. Demento's interview with NPR can be heard here. The written article can be read here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Everything in its Right Place

I'm awful at keeping my apartment clean. Things pile up – laundry, garbage, dishes, empty Diet Coke cans, old magazines. I'm pretty sure I'm not a hoarder, as I'm not against throwing stuff away. I just never really get around to throwing stuff away. More accurately, I hate cleaning. I hate the act of gathering all my crap in a pile, deciding what to keep, what to throw out, what to put on the bookshelf, what to put in the closet, what to put in the desk. This is made doubly difficult by the fact that I live with another person. I'm okay with putting my stuff away, but for some reason I'm loathe to put my wife's books back on the bookshelf – what if she can't find them? What if she doesn't think to look for Catch-22 on the bookshelf? I have stupid anxieties, right? This week I decided I'd had enough, by which I mean I had enough time off of work that if I didn't clean the apartment, I'd probably kill myself from the boredom.

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Dollars and Cents

The incredible thing about cleaning – we'll say once a year, maybe? - is that you find a lot of spare change just hanging out all over the place. Buried under papers on your desk. Underneath your kitchen table. Batted under the couch by your fucking cat. All kinds of places. In the time it took me to clean my apartment, I became probably about seven dollars richer. I'm going to head down to a Coinstar machine tomorrow so I can trade all of that money in for a soy latte or something. I feel that I have earned a moment of idiotic spending.

Like Spinning Plates

Things I have too many of: Cups, pots, pans, coffee mugs (we don't own a fucking coffee maker!).
Things I only have two of: Full-sized plates. This needs to be changed. (What I am saying is send me your plates.)

Scatterbrain

I live in a really small apartment. Granted, it's a pretty big really small apartment, but still. It shouldn't take me eight hours to clean it, even if I only clean it once a year. The problem is I have so much other shit to do instead of clean. Important shit like check my email then my Facebook because I got an email saying somebody commented on something I said on my Facebook page and then since I'm looking at that I may as well check my Twitter to see if somebody said something funny because I don't want to miss that and hey since I'm already here I should check out espn.com to do some scoreboard watching boy I hope the Yankees are losing and hey you know what would help me clean is if I made an apartment cleaning playlist in iTunes what should I listen to I've been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth lately maybe I should put something else on but what else is there oh forget it I'll just go and clean again hey look there's a book underneath this pile of clothing and oh man I was using a movie ticket as a bookmark boy I remember when I saw the Brothers Bloom man that movie is really good I wonder when Rian Johnson's next movie is coming out I should check Wikipedia (and then I pass out.)

Go to Sleep

My wife always tells me that the first thing you should do when you get out of bed is put on a pair of shoes. That way, you won't be tempted to go back to bed and waste the rest of your day. Guess what – it takes me less than six seconds to kick my shoes off, and about half as long to fall asleep. The real key to not going back to bed when I start cleaning is to do some laundry, and make a big pile of it on my bed. That way, if I want to take a nap, I at least have to fold my laundry and put it away first. It's like that move that people do where they set their watch five minutes fast so they trick themselves into thinking they're always running late so they'll show up to things earlier. For some reason that never worked for me – oh wait, that's because I'm not so stupid that I don't remember that I set my watch five minutes ahead. Sheesh.

Fake Plastic Trees

One of the many benefits of having a nice, clean apartment is I can really take a look at things and figure out how I want to decorate it. I probably should have thought of this three and a half years ago, when I moved in. Whatever. Right now, there are four living things in this apartment. Me, my wife, Peepopo the Unhelpful Cat and a nice little bamboo plant named Julianne Wiebalk. Now that the whole apartment (minus the two boxes of Goodwill stuff and the area underneath my wife's bedside table) is clean, I'm thinking it would be pretty nice to have some more plants in here. I'm thinking maybe some kudzu.

My Iron Lung

My mom smoked when she was pregnant with me, so I was born with asthma. I more or less outgrew my asthma, but I missed not being able to breathe, so I started smoking cigarettes. I quit smoking a few years ago, but luckily I can recreate the feeling of smoking all the time without the fun of actually smoking. All I have to do is clean anything in my apartment – a cloud of dust, hair, pet dander, old thumbtacks, dirt, whatever, shoots high into the air, filling my lungs with horrible death - all without any of the nasty side effects of smoking, like relaxing, consuming nicotine, or getting to set something on fire three inches away from my face.

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Apparently the easy part of cleaning your apartment is actually getting it clean. The hard part – according to my crackpot wife – is keeping it clean. I figure if the easy part is cleaning it, and the hard part is maintaining, then why not just forgo keeping it clean? Skip the hard part, go right back to the easy part? I'm sure if I explain this to my wife, she'll see things my way.