Howl Of The Winds

Posted: March 13, 2014 in Fridge Note, It's not the heat, it's the humanity, Shovels

It’s a poorly kept secret that I’ve struggled with less-than-ideal employment efforts in the past few years, and all the lovely emotional whiplashes that entails.  Not that I am alone in that, and I count myself lucky that I’ve had the wherewithal to withstand under-employment and keep working to some extent.

And many of the bloggerhood have also suffered.  At one point, it seemed like everyone I knew had been tagged by the unemployment stick, and the end with the nails.  You all know who you are/were, and my hats are off to all of you for persevering.

Y’see, the thing about having ‘career hiatus’ is that it is nearly impossible not to take it personally, as a judgement of your skills and talents and worth as a person.  And everyone will tell you that it’s not your fault, but when the night gets REALLY quiet and you can hear all those voices in your head ever so clearly, they all are saying it IS your fault. And that you are useless and ugly and your mother dresses you funny.  Here’s a quote I have found:

Here’s what I am: I am terrified, lonely, pissed, clueless, frustrated, confused, hurt, second-guessing myself and my skill set, mortified, embarrassed, bored, lost, totally faking it and depressed.

That is one excellent job of nailing the fuck out of the mindset.

But here’s the thing I have to say.  There are many ways of coping, but for me during my darkest days, the blogging community (and there was a community, dammit.  There WAS!) gave me an outlet and support that helped me in the roughest days and nights.  Yes, that was YOU bunch of imaginary digital weirdos.  I mean that in the nicest way.

Out here in the wild of Bloggerstan, I was rude, I howled and screamed;  I said things I probably shouldn’t have, and didn’t say things I should have.   I cursed and picked fights and posted Rush videos.  I Zardozed other blogs, and then shut down my comments and closed blogs with no forwarding address.  In short, I acted out (I know, I know, still do!) and the most remarkable thing is that so many people I had never met before reacted with patience and consideration and just the right amount of snark.  Well, more or less, snark is hard to judge.

So I owe all of you a debt of thanks, but here’s the thing;  I want to set up the Zom-signal to come to that aid of one of our lot who is facing the dark hellish torture of the Modern Employment Paradigm.

Longtime Bloggerhood denizen (and aficionado of proper Wisconsin beer) Von has been peremptorily dismissed by a corporate employer who is in an industry that, while it wasn’t as hard hit by the First Republican Recession of the 21st Century as the construction world was,  it has been further battered by the changes wrought by the Internarfles.  Yes, that quote up above is from a FaceHell post she did.  It tore at me, resonating in recognition.

I dunno if she wants this kind of recognition, or even reads the Empire anymore, but this is what I can offer.  I’d like to drive some New Glarus beer down, or go see a show in Chicago, but next week is the Wisconsin Regional for Robotics and I am like a slow zombie with missing limbs.  So here’s what I am asking.

Those of you with a emailio for the lovely and talented Von, give her some of the same support and encouragement you gave me (light on the advice, at her request).  Tell her how great she looks with her guitar.  whatever.  If you have job leads, that’s a goodie.  And maybe keep the spider content to a minimum for a change, willya?

If nothing else, populate the comment threads herein with an effusive outpouring of positivity and love, like a Poi Dog Pondering show that was sprayed with Ecstasy.  And just for Von, I feel this needs to be posted:


So to finish up, I would first like to post a song by the Mekons, since Von is a Friend of Langford:

and second: Von, if you ever read this, just accept the fact that you have friends all over the Internoodles and that we would like to let you know that all of those things you are feeling are terrible and no-good and that they are all lies.


  1. Fenwick says:

    “Ooooo, it is so large….” nudge nudge wink wink.

    Also, I’ve never met fish, but he featured in many comments before he showed up.

    Sooo. You were in Santa Fe recently? What were you doing there? Didja have fun? (This is a short version of a Fenwick Question Barrage; I’m always interested in other people’s lives.)

    I don’t know if I mentioned it somewhere earlier, but Ol’ Fenwick lives in Albuquerque now…after an epic 2,000 mile drive from Baltimore, my home for 25 years.

    Okay, I look for some truly Cretaceous music later.

  2. Lookit that, a fresh page. ZARDOZ ON!

  3. Fenwick says:

    Okay I found two good Beatles songs from the Cretaceous. The first is a well-known epic. You probably haven’t heard it for years. The second is terrific satire that also carries a certain current-events irony.

    They are also linked together in another way: These two songs were the bookends of the ***greatest cross-fade transition*** I ever made in the booth.

    I learned radio on-the-air. I had ONE day of off-mic training: familiarization with the equipment (“board”), and observing in the booth as an experienced worked. When the mic was off, Jim explained everthing and/or answered my questions. Taught me some short-cuts and tricks bout operation and cueing (*).

    And the NEXT day, I was sitting in the chair with the board at my fingertips and an open mic in front of me. Jim sat behind me, sort of like an instructor watching a pilot-in-training at the controls, and ready to intervene if anything went catastrophically wrong. Nothing did. When I got in trouble, he always had an easy *silent* fix: pointing at a specific control.

    And on the THIRD day, I flew solo.

    Fortunately, I arrived with an important skill set: For three years I was champion debater in HS; I knew inflection and how to manipulate my voice. I also had an acute sense of small units of time due to the time-keeping rules …. watching as the cards were turned minute-by-minute. In the booth, *EVERYTHING* is about small units of time. You must think in terms of minutes and SECONDS.

    How long is the commercial? How long is the song? And–in network feeds of Kansas City Royals baseball–when is that knucklehead Bud Blattner gonna toss the station break for local-station ID?
    The break was 10 SECONDS. I threw the switch, got in the ID, the temp, the time, and threw the switch again. All the time my eyes were riveted on the sweeping second-hand of a large clock mounted above the board. Per FCC rules, that knucklehead Blattner could throw the break anywhere inside a ten-minute (!) span. [5 til the hour; 5 after the hour]. So I’m in my seat and ready to go.

    Anyway the point is: I learned radio on-the-air. In my own program, I concentrated on technical operation of the board, didn’t open the mic much at first. Depending on the commercial load–almost nothing after we turned off the AM transmitter at sunset–I put together 15- or 30-minute sets of songs strung together. At the completion I’d open the mic and give the titles and bands in the just-finished set. [Insert brief open-mic stuff here] Somewhere along the line, I’d pop in the required station ID, time, and temp within the required 10-minute window.

    Instead, I concentrated on improving my technical technique, until I ran a board that was tight and smooth. My bestest ever transition was a PERFECT cross-fade from the end of “A Day in the Life” …to the opening of “Back in the USSR”

    I worked the crossfade on the orchestral build at the end of “Day in the Life”…transforming it smoothly into the landing-jet-sound that prefaces “Back in the USSR”

    (((Unfortunately the link’s clip loses some of the jet preface. Use your imagination. Also it musta been a total freakout for listeners expecting the Final Chord of the piano! Which reminds me of a story about the recording of the Final Chord. Which is the sort of story I would have told on-air after I began to open up the mic. But this Comment has shirley gone on long enough.

    (((Smooth and and perfect cross-fade goes here)))

    Also there are Fenwick stories about working against the USSR as a military intelligence analyst during the Cold War. So, yeah, we can drive this puppy over 600.

  4. Fenwick says:

    (*) Wuups. I never put in the asterisk footnote in the Radio comment. So here it is: I wanted to admit that I *DID* miscue records while still learning. So ignore the hyperbole in an earlier comment way upstream. That was only true after I had mastered the controls.

    • Oregon Beer Snob says:

      I love the radio anecdotes. My dad still does a live show on a small town station, and I’ve co-broadcasted many times with him on air. It’s a unique experience.

  5. Don’t worry about the older character of your music, Fen. Most of us are familiar with it, even if we grew up later.

  6. Fenwick says:

    For whatever its worth, the count was 592 when I began keying this.

    Thanks OBS! It’s always nice to hear appreciation.


    I have an off-the-wall contribution. It is orchestal: The Stuttgart Sympony performing “Pines of the Appian Way”, the fourth and final movement of Respighi’s ‘tone poem’ The Pines of Rome. The piece tells a story about the Roman Legions who began their journies by marching along the Appian Way, eventually to the far-flung provinces of the Empire, and a musical account of a battle fought in a distant province.

    The piece begins with a repetitive cadence for the long, long marches the Legions made. Windwinds–especially the oboe–begin to add the exotic sounds of some far province.

    And then, at 2:24, the enemy is sighted …. signaled in the piece by the entry of BRASS, begun by French horns. The brass gets larger and larger as the Legions deploy from the march, and form into battle, the classic checkerboard. Throughout the deployment, the orchestral sound–especially the brass–gets larger and larger until you think it can’t get any bigger, but it DOES at…

    3:35 — a magnifent brass fanfare accounces all four Legions are in battle formation … and the advance toward the enemy begins until …

    4:18 a slight pause in the advance, represents the legionnaires throwing their lead-tipped spears at the the enemy. (The tips bent and couldn’t be thrown back; those that stuck in shields hindered the enemy.)

    4:26 And then comes the *double-time* as the legions close with the enemy for combat .. . with contact represented by clashing cymbols symbolizing shield and swords.

    After this comes a triumphal finish. (I like to pretend the finish does not occur on the battlefield, but in a triumphal march into Rome … along the Appian Way.)


    During my journey, I took one of my few cab rides to get from the center of Rome to its outskirts to see the Catacombs(*), Hippodrome, and Appian Way. I walked along the Appian Way’s ancient paving slabs in late afternon. (((The part of the road near Rome is covered by modern pavement.)))

    (*) “Pines of the Catacombs” is the second movement of the tone poem.


    One final note: The conductor is a TRIP. His gestures and facial expressions are–I’m search for a word–unlike any conductor I’ve ever seen. Yes indeedy, the Zardoz goes over 600!

  7. fish says:

    70s. and 90s. I believe he was on another planet during the 80s.

    I am still of the opinion that the 80’s (early) represent an unusually creative and exciting time in popular music. The backlash to Disco created some amazing new forms of music that only fleetingly survived before being reassimilated into the borg.

  8. of course, he missed 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500. pretty low hit rate, fishie fishy fish.

  9. For whatever its worth, the count was 592 when I began keying this.

    …three days ago. Whoah. mikey and I have been accused of being wordy, but you should forget the Olympics and go pro!

    Or get yourself a blog. That is post-worthy, no doubt.

  10. Fenwick says:

    Gee. That was no fun at all.

  11. Fenwick says:

    I mean the part about 600 stolen, rather than delight of reaching it in natural conversation.

    I am a professional writer.

  12. Fenwick says:

    insert ‘the’

  13. Fenwick says:

    I rarely EDIT any of my internet comments. Pretty much I bash them out, eyeball them once, and push the button to send it. This comes from the way I write fiction: I draft and let my head go wherever it wants and my fingers try to follow as fast as they can, but I can’t stop to do editing. That comes later in my process.

    So that’s why Ol’ Fenwick has lots of typos and misspelled words. This Zardoz, by the way, has had a pernicious effect on my fiction writing.(*) But time well spent by having fun.

    And also thinking about Von and teh Zombie and all the other good people suffering, but struggling through, and surviving the toxic times in which we live. It was teh Zombie’s wonderful post that started this and it still echoes in my head. Especially Von’s sentence.

    (*) a blog would be FATAL. But thanks to all for the kind encouragement you’ve given me over the years.

  14. Fenwick says:

    This is 610. Zombie: You want to pull the plug? I must check-out of the Zardoz. I need to concentrate on my work. I think it was noble effort.

    610. Fish’s cheap stunt required 7 comments. So the Zardoz has reached 600 by non-fraudulent means.

    Thanx to everyone who played (and/or lurked) !!!!!

    • the plug will NOT be pulled. After 30 days, comments automagically close. But until that point, the blog goes on.

      …as do the commenters.

      you are perfectly welcome to check in and out as life events and mental state warrants. There is a new post, and there will be new posts after the FIRST Regional.

  15. “fish’s cheap stunt”

    you’re gonna have to be more explicit.

  16. Fenwick says:

    And I will drop by now and again. I have a routine of ‘checking places’ on the internets toobs. I’ll add the Zardoz to my tour.

  17. fish says:

    I am anything but cheap. I am reaching for a higher shelf than Sailor Jerry thank you very much.

  18. yeah, not cheap. “Tawdry” is a much better word.

  19. Fenwick says:

    Now that VonFest is over, this list is from the more prosaic Battle-O-the-Bands. It covers all the thread since the last VonFest list. To help out the Zardoz count, it is broken into two comments:

    Battle-O-the-Bands, part the first

    Termination Chain
    Banging Robots
    Fossil Tunes
    Sufficiently Evolved
    Wink Wink
    Question Barrage
    Units of Time
    Knucklehead Bud
    Jet Preface
    Final Chord
    Ignore the Hyperbole

  20. Fenwick says:

    Battle-O-the-Bands, part the second

    Another Planet
    Monkey Actor
    Rage Junk
    Far Flung Provinces
    Add the Exotic
    Modern Pavement
    Fishie Fishy Fish
    Surviving the Toxic
    Magically Close

    Pitch in! The more you write in a comment … the more possibilities for band names! Do your part before the 30-day axe falls on the Zardoz!

  21. Fenwick says:

    Okay, this is germane: From an FDL piece on Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Lie Witness News’ gag:

    Kimmel: “Music fans in general love knowing about bands that no one else has ever heard of so we decided to conduct an experiment; we sent a camera crew to Coachella and we asked people walking into the venue what they thought of a bunch of bands whose names we made up. These bands are so obscure that they do not exist.”

    FDL: ‘Dr. Schlomo and the GI Clinic’, ‘The Obesity Epidemic’, ‘Get the Fuck Out of My Pool’, and ‘The Chelsea Clintons’ are just a few of the nonexistent bands referenced. In response, not only do participants confirm knowing the acts they pile on with additional thoughts. One guy even suggests that he used to play a nonexistent album from one of these nonexistent bands back when he was working as a local radio DJ.


    Play the first video clip. Imagine these as festival-goers heading for the Fuck This stage at VonFest!

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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