Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Up with Figs: For the Birds

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.





Bob. I need you to sit down for a minute. We need to talk. 

No, Bob. Now is exactly the right time. 


They aren’t real, Bob. Not even a little. 


Stuffed, Bob. Not with “love,” like you say every single time I point this out. With industrial fiberfill. 


I’m not “against freedom,” Bob. I’m just worried about where this is going. You need to choose: me or the three penguins.


Well. 


That was unexpected. And quick. I expected more mulling. And no I won’t scrape my own sticker off of your window. I never wanted to be part of this freak show in the first place, Bob.


Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman. Until the end of time. Or something.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Up with Figs: The Horror

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



I haven’t told you my other method for dealing with writer’s block. I give myself a choice—I can either write whatever needs to be written or complete some odious task, like scrubbing the innards of the refrigerator or washing all of the upstairs windows or cleaning around the 9-year old Boy’s bed, including the crack between the frame and the mattress, which is where all of the extra-grody stuff lives. Nearly every single time I’ll just sit down and write. And, even if instead choose the odious task, at least there’s one less odious task on my list. It’s a win no matter what.

Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman. Until the end of time. Or something.




Monday, December 8, 2014

Strawberry Fields



One year, as Dave and I prepared to decorate our Christmas tree, we set our music to play random songs and went about pulling the ornaments out of storage.

When we returned to the tree with the boxes of ornaments, there was Dave the Cat, peering from the dark depths of the tree branches just as John Lennon sang "No one I think is in my tree" from "Strawberry Fields Forever." 

Cats.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Up with Figs: Muscle

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



Have I ever told you my sure-fire method for avoiding writer’s block? Seriously—this could not be more true and you just drew an image that lived only in my brain. What I do is this: I image two thuggish guys—one craggy-but-devious, one doughy-but-strong—standing right in front of me demanding copy right now. They know I’ve been holding out, see, and need me to focus on how much I love my knee-caps. Works every time.

Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman. Until the end of time. Or something.




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Up with Figs: And…and…and…

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman. Until the end of time. Or something.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Up with Figs: Turtle!

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.


Son. How may times must we have this same conversation? You lick toads, not turtles. TOADS.

Besides, it’s a myth anyway. You can’t get high from toad licking. If you could, there’d be a serious black market for amphibians. Which there isn’t. 

Still, son. I’m begging you here. Don’t. Lick. The. Turtle. No good will come of it and we’ll all just feel silly afterwards.



Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman. Until the end of time. Or something.


Monday, November 17, 2014

More 78 rpm madness: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys


It's a disease. A disease, I tell you! The 78 rpm record collecting bug has bit. Bited. Bitten.

Remember I told you a while back that I planned to create art sleeves for the records? So that I have an excuse to research a little about these artists who recorded in that era? And so that I have something to read while I listen to the record? This one is next in line: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

The artwork folds around the paper record sleeve and then both are slipped into the clear plastic outer sleeve.





From my liner notes:

* * *

Bob Wills (March 6, 1905-May 13, 1975) is considered the co-founder of Western swing.

He was the eldest of four brothers and six sisters growing up near Turkey, Texas. His father, “Uncle John” Wills, was a champion fiddler and struggling cotton farmer. Bob grew up picking cotton with neighbors and migrant workers who sung and played blues and jazz, and his love of the music would influence his arrangements his entire life.

He formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 during the Great Depression. According to his daughter, Carolyn, he understood the effect of hard times and the formula for easing its hold, and was committed to easing his audience’s woes.

Made up of Wills on fiddle, Tommy Duncan on piano and vocals, June Whalin on rhythm guitar, Johnnie Lee Wills on tenor banjo, and Kermit Whalin on steel guitar and bass, the band later added Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, Al Stricklin on piano, drummer Smokey Dacus, and an ever expanding horn section.

Wills favored jazz-like arrangements and often dressed in double-breasted suits and custom-made boots. The Texas Playboys wore western suits or trousers, white shirts, and neckties. Wills’ “holler” and animation entertained audiences in dance halls from Texas to California.

According to pianist Al Stricklin, he was “…the man who could get 110 percent effort out of his musicians… the man who was feared and loved by his men; the man who could sell his product like nobody else.” Bob demanded constant readiness so that each musician could play a solo at a split second’s notice.

Bob Wills died in 1975, leaving behind a legacy honored in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

* * *

The record I'll play for you today was made in 1946 on Okeh Records 06101. Side A is "Take Me Back To Tulsa." Aw, turn it on, boys!







Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Up with Figs: Sunset

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



There is so much information nestled between the lines of an obit, so much heartbreak suggested by so few words: “predeceased by infant son,” say, or, “died alone at the Matilda Johnson Nursing Home.” And there’s joy, too. “Died peacefully.” “Survived by…” “Loved.” So many stories in those formulaic texts, a life both described and decanted. Still, I can’t help but envy Mr “died on a beach in Hawaii.” Inshallah.

Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman. Until the end of time. Or something.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When You Come Back

Lately I've been listening to my grandmother's Edison Diamond Disc Gramophone records. 


My grandmother and aunt,  circa 1914.




The 1/4" thick, 10" wide hockey puck.


The records were marketed from 1912 to 1929 by Thomas Edison and playable only on his Edison Gramophones. These machines were fitted with a precision-cut diamond stylus for playing the records, and the records could not be played on any other type of player such as the Victor Victrola, which used steel needles. Try it and you'd ruin the Diamond Disc record.

Unfortunately, Edison's bet that his recording and playback method for records would win out over shellac disc records did not end in his favor. Just as with his feud with Nikola Tesla over AC/DC current, it was a battle he would lose. Shellac discs, or 78s, while not having the audio fidelity that the Edison records had, were cheaper to produce. 

The Edison discs are 1/4" thick and made from wood flour and asphaltic bonder, so they're fairly heavy. Early records have the song title and other information directly engraved on them instead of using paper labels (Edison began using those in the 1920s).


The beautiful engraved Edison record label. This record is from 1918.


When we were kids, my sisters, brother, and I sometimes dug out these records, but with only a small turntable to play them on, we didn't get much sound out of them. What we could hear cracked us up, though; the singing voices sounded so goofy to us, with the overly proper enunciation and rolled Rs.

Now I have them with my collection of 78s. Soon I will have Grandma's gramophone here at the house and will begin the slow process of restoring it. The oak veneers are a mess due to water damage, but I'm determined to get the ol' gal running. I could probably buy one in good working order, but I'd rather have the one my grandparents played; it means more to my foolish, romantic heart.

Since it's Veteran's Day, I pulled out the record titled "When You Come Back, And You Will Come Back, There's A Whole World Waiting For You." It was written by George M. Cohan for the men fighting in WWI, and recorded for Edison in 1918.


From an old photo album I found in an antique store. Marching off to WWI.


What's most interesting to me, though, are the lyrics. For years I thought the first line in the chorus of the song was "When you come back, and you will come back…" but listening to it now I hear "When you come back, if you do come back…" Holy crap.

But looking up the lyrics online, I found a different account. The actual lyrics Cohan wrote are:

From 'Frisco Bay to old Broadway,
Today all over the U.S.A.,
We know we're fighting the foe.
So we all stand steady and ready to go,
We know no fear we know no tear,
And all we hear is the Yankee cheer.
I hear a girlie say to her boy as he marched away:

(Chorus)
When you come back, yes, when you come back,
You'll hear the Yankee cry, "Ata boy, Jack!"
And when you return remember to bring
Some little thing that you get from the king,
And drop me a line from Germany, Do,
Yankee Doodle, do;
When you come back, And you will come back,
There's the whole world waiting for you.

It's rum, tum, tum, the fife and drum,
So march in time for the time has come,
To smash right thru with a bang.
With the same old spirit when liberty rang,
To win, begin to rush right in,
And fly our flag over old Berlin.
Let's let our message be to the Yankee across the sea: 

[Repeat Chorus]


The recorded version repeats the chorus at the end, but the first line changes from "When you come back, if you do come back" to "When you come back, and you will come back." So at least the song ends on a positive note.

But I wonder if that small change in lyrics, which gives a bigger, more foreboding air to the song, was simply a mistake on the singer's part, or if it was intentional? I kind of like to think it was intentional, giving a deeper emotion to Cohan's rah-rah original lyrics.

Have a listen: 



video




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