Today is the tenth anniversary of Outgoing Signals!

This is my 1,709th post.  To celebrate, please accept this photograph of my basement ceiling.

tubetopOther exciting posts leading up to the anniversary include the following:

Thank you for stopping by.

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Words of wisdom from Special Agent Dale Cooper

Here are four “screen captures” I made when I re-watched Twin Peaks last month.  I put that in quotes there because I’m not really sure if it counts as a screen capture if it’s just me sitting on the floor in the dark aiming my iPad at the television.  Maybe that’s something else entirely.

I took these four shots because I wanted three new things to say in real life and a new mantra to repeat in my head while I’m doing savasana.

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The lights in the bedroom…bum bum bum.

I recently hung two strands of white lights around the top of my bedroom walls after seeing a similar arrangement in the home of one of Beth’s neighbors.  I liked the look and knew I wanted it for my own house.
left rightMy walls are painted a very dark blue, but they tend to look black once the sun goes down.  When I turn the white lights on in the evening, I can sort of convince myself I’m outside on a starry night.  The fact that my bedroom is really cold only adds to the illusion that I’m outdoors.

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…while whispering “I’ll see you.”

I’m a guy who has musical mysteries in his life.  For instance, what was the ba-ba song Yo La Tengo opened with at the Southgate House back in early 2007?  What was the amazing Zombies-ish song I heard at Black Ink in Cambridge that sounded like the perfect combination of “Care of Cell 44” and Pete Ham’s “Makes Me Feel Good”?  Who was the folk singer holding an acoustic guitar on the cover of the used CD that somehow disappeared right out from under me just a few minutes after I’d been eyeing it at the old Everyday Music?  Why do Twenty One Pilots exist?

Perhaps the biggest musical mystery is the one that should be the easiest to solve.  I own a copy of the song, after all.  I just don’t know who the performer is or what it’s called.  This mystery has been bothering me since the early 2000s when I first found the song on a now defunct file-sharing network.  It was originally labelled as being by the Swedish musician known as Firefox AK.  The song sounds like her, but it’s not on any of my Firefox AK CDs and I can find no reference to it in any of her discographies.

I took the time to write down all the lyrics to the best of my ability.  I’ve plugged all sorts of variations into the usual search engines and have come up empty.  Here are the lyrics to my mystery song:

Kiss me you say…as your friend fell asleep before we got to the end
You said you’d love me for all-times
in a row (?)
I could only be quiet smiling

I lost myself
I had to go
You stumbled out and nearly broke your foot

I lost myself
I had to go
You stumbled out and nearly broke your foot

and I’m so sure (x4)

Waited for a long time by the phone it was…for a time
I’m recovering, recovering, recovering
and I’m nearly done.
I never really understood what happened that night
it was so…
I’m recovering, recovering, recovering
and I’m nearly done in/and

I lost myself
I had to go
You stumbled out and nearly broke your foot
while whispering “I’ll see you.”

I lost myself
I had to go
You stumbled out and nearly broke your foot
while whispering “I’ll see you.”

and I’m so sure (x8)

I haven’t posted a song online in five or six years, but I’m going to post my mystery song right now.  Hopefully the performer or their management company will eventually find it and make me take it down.  At least then I’ll know who they are.  Mystery solved!

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I take it black, BB-8!

What I need most in my life is a little droid that rolls around the house bringing me hot coffees.  Sadly, these don’t exist yet.  They’re only available in Lego world.

lego-michael-and-bb-8 The eagle-eyed among you may notice that I’ve ripped off Richard Buckner’s head and am now using it as my own.  I recently got rid of my big white beard and replaced it with a pair of smallish sideburns.  Sideburns are the second worst thing you can do with facial hair, but at least I don’t wake up in the morning with them in my mouth.  Lego Buckner had sideburns, so I popped off his head and stuck it on Lego M—–l’s body to make a new, more accurate version of me.  You might think I then stuck Lego M—–l’s original head on Lego Buckner’s body to make a second mini-fig, but you would be wrong.  That would’ve been weird.  It would’ve looked like I was dressing up as Richard Buckner.  I instead left a headless Lego Buckner next to my old head.  Our parts are hanging out with Lego Homey at the Parisian Restaurant.

The Parisian Restaurant is the reason why Lego M—–l is always wearing a beret, despite the fact that I would never wear one in real life.  I also had a lot of difficulty finding Lego hair that managed to capture my homemade haircut/bedhead look.  Making it even more difficult is the fact that my hair just recently decided to switch its part to the right side after 42 years of parting on the left.  I don’t know what that’s about.

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Broken promises & those darned slacks

Remember yesterday when I said I was going to do a post-a-day for a week to celebrate the site’s tenth anniversary?  Well, I may have overstated my level of motivation and competence a bit there.  Today’s post was supposed to be Outgoing Signals: The Official Soundtrack Album (available via secret link to those who are really bored).  Unfortunately, the compilation of musical highlights quickly got out of hand.  The dozen songs I had intended to include somehow ballooned to 56.  I don’t feel like sorting and editing them right now, so there won’t be a post today.

But while I’m here, I suppose I’ll share this previously unseen vintage photograph of a woman with a camera standing in front of a stone wall.  I call the picture “those darned slacks” because the woman writes about her pants on the back.

those-darned-slacks-frontAs always (or sometimes), click on the picture to see the other side.

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Care for a ceramic cookie with your coffee?

February 12th, 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of this website.  For the last couple of those years I’ve considered that date to be the finish line.  Now that I’m almost there, I suspect I won’t actually follow through with my intention to quit.  I’ve tried to pack it in before, but then a few days later I’ll find a love letter tied to a deflated balloon or see a tow truck towing another tow truck.  There’s always something.

Speaking of something, here’s a photograph I’ve wanted to take for the last two years but didn’t get around to until this morning.  Yes, it’s Babo Cookie Jar looking at his reflection in my Nespresso machine…while the machine is making coffee!  How could I deprive you, the skimmer, of such brilliance?



It’s my intention to do a post-a-day for the next week to celebrate the site’s anniversary.  This is the first of those posts.

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I picked up this 7″ at Everybody’s Records today.  It’s the first ever release from James McNew’s Dump.  It came out in 1992 (the same year he joined Yo La Tengo as bassist).  I’m posting this scan here because the entire pressing of 1,000 records was hand-colored, so there’s not another sleeve out there that looks exactly like this.  I like things that are unique.dump-aBoth sides of the record were hand-colored.  You can click on the front to see the back.  There’s a snowman back there.

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The Best Music of 2016

It was very easy to do my best books of 2016 post.  All I had to do was go over to Goodreads and sort the titles I read last year by their star ratings.  Then I threw together a few sentences about the best of the best.  It took an hour at most.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything like that for music.  The closest I come to a sortable music database is my brain…and that thing isn’t reliable anymore.  It recently spent six days trying (and failing) to remember who sang “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”  Making things even more difficult is the fact that I made the mistake of already filing away my new CDs and vinyl.  In order to figure out what I actually bought last year, I’d have to go through everything I own and try to remember when I got it.  That’s just not going to happen.  It would take far too long.  My floor slants for a reason.

I realized last night that it doesn’t matter.  I don’t need to go through all my shelves because I already know what’s going in the #1 slot.  I’ve known my Album of the Year since last January.  It was the first record I bought in 2016 and it’s still the best thing I heard all year.  It’s Nadia Reid’s debut LP, Listen to Formation, Look For the Signs.


(sof’ boy presents…)

You can get yourself a copy of the LP, buy a digital download, or listen on either of these Bandcamp sites: Scissor Tail Records (US$) or Nadia Reid (NZ$).

Here are some other favorites that popped into my head while I was writing this: Teenage Fanclub – Here / Constant and True: A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg / the Monkees – Good Times! / Lightning in a Twilight Hour / Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree / Blossom Dearie – Sings Rootin’ Songs / Game Theory reissues / Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows / Tiny Fireflies – The Space Between / Memoryhouse – Soft Hate / Robert Forster – Songs to Play / Jack Lee – Bigger Than Life / The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books / Sandy Denny – I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn / Paul McCartney / The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid / Nick Lowe box set / Girl Group Sounds: One Kiss Can Lead to Another / Jigsaw Records / Steppin’ Out With the Grateful Dead: England ’72 / Matt Pond PA – Winter Lives / The Water Walk / Yo-Yo Ma – Simply Baroque / Colin Meloy covers EPs / One Plus Two – Once in a Blue Moon / Pop Art / Six Degrees of Robyn Hitchcock (KEXP radio show)

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The Best Books of 2016

I read a lot of books last year.  Here are the ones that I enjoyed the most all lined up on my shelf:


(sof’ boy presents…)

I read 22 titles from the New York Review Children’s Collection in 2016.  One of the best was Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill.  I originally read it a couple years ago, but decided to revisit the entire Jenny Linsky series (with the exception of the mysterious Jenny’s Bedside Book from 1959, which remains frustratingly out-of-print).  Jenny and the Cat Club really isn’t better than Esther Averill’s other books, but it’s the one I read first.  I include it here as representative of the entire series.

The next book is A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.  It examines the political situation in Jamaica in the mid-70s and how what happened there later contributed to the development of the crack trade in Miami and New York City in the 80s.  The central event around which the entire book is built is the real-life assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976.  A Brief History is a complex and frustrating book.  And at over 700 pages, it’s anything but brief.  As soon as I finished it, though, I wanted to start over at the beginning and read it again.

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but the non-fiction books I do read tend to be music related.  I read seven titles in 2016 that were written by or about musicians.  Although Bruce Springsteen’s memoir got more press, Elvis Costello’s Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink was the better book.  With the possible exception of that crazy “unauthorized autobiography” Ray Davies wrote in the 90s, Unfaithful Music is probably my favorite musical biography.

My favorite book ever remains Life a User’s Manual by Georges Perec.  I reread it this year and enjoyed it even more than I did the first time I read it in 2010.  I feel like I could read this book every year for the rest of my life and never tire of it.  There are so many different ways to read Life a User’s Manual.  This time I read it out of order, picking a location in the apartment building each day and reading all of its corresponding chapters.  For instance, I read the 11 chapters that took place in the Servants’ Quarters on Thursday, September 29 and then read the three chapters centered around Winckler’s unit on Friday, September 30.  Some days I read for two hours; other days I read for ten minutes.  It took me 26 days to complete the book this way.  It would’ve taken me 27 days except I got impatient at the end.

The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Álvaro Mutis is one of the books I was reading when I got a detached retina back in 2013.  I set the book aside until my vision recovered…and then set it aside some more.  Years went by.  My main reading goal for 2016 was to revisit the book and finish the dang thing.  I had to start all over because I’d forgotten what happened in the first novella.  I didn’t mind rereading that one and the six that followed were just as strange and wonderful.  This is the book I want with me if I ever get lost in the jungle.  I’d also like some fresh water and a supply of jerky, please.

Donna Leon’s The Waters of Eternal Youth is the 25th novel in the author’s  Commissario Brunetti series (by my count, at least).  And it’s the best book she’s written in over a decade.  It made me cry on an airplane.

As I mentioned up top, I read a lot of those red NYRB children’s books.  My favorite one was Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren.  You should go read it right now.  Really.

If you’d like to see which other books I read last year (including a couple one-star duds), you should check out My Year in Books 2016 on Goodreads.

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