In the dark recesses of every person's life lurks a collection of pointless pursuits, puerile choices, tasteless humor, embarrassing misadventures, cynical expressions of insensitivity, and items of little or no intrinsic value expressed in disgustingly immature form. This page has been established to celebrate that fact! It represents the "junk drawer" of this website; a grab bag of best ignored or forgotten refuse; a complete and utter waste of time; a senseless expenditure of energy to no useful purpose whatsoever. That's why I like it!
By the way, the photo to the right shows my brother Rick encouraging and enabling our dog Pix' dreams of celebrity - she apparently wanted to become an International Pup Star. I can tell you this: She could terrier heart out with her singing. I'm my usual sullen self in headphones, directing traffic and recording in the background.
Now, to put you in the proper frame of mind for this page I have found a piece of music I wrote back in about 1991 when I got my first EMU Proteus 1 sound module. I took my shiny, new sound module out for a spin around Halloween of that year as a combination test/joke called "Wrong House on Lugosi Street." A little voice-over work adds to the fun, but you'll need to listen closely to the ending because the spooky voice is veiled in mystery and mistakenly low volume fader position:
News Reports You May Have Missed:
June 5, 2005 - Auckland, New Zealand: The Remarkable Social-Climbing Turtles of New Zealand
New Zealand turtles are without doubt the slowest social climbers in the world. What originally started as a well-intentioned attempt to get the painfully introverted reptiles to come out of their shells has become a major problem for elite social gatherings in the finest upper class households of New Zealand. The various social events of the well-to-do were once the exclusive province of "old money," sharply limited to the carefully screened few. Then the turtles began to infiltrate these bastions of privilege. At first they were seen as innocuous amusements at these social gatherings but once the turtles began to outnumber the invited guests concerns began to grow. People noted changes. Music was being played at much slower tempos to accommodate the lesser agility of the turtles thus lending a generally lower level of excitement to the proceedings. As a result, steps are being taken to bar attendance at events that have, up until now, tolerated turtles' access. That begs the question: How will the turtles react? Will they take this lying upside down or will they decide to stick their necks out in defense of their right to attend? One of the turtles was overheard to say, "We may make this a struggle of attrition. With a life expectancy in excess of 150 years we can afford to wait."
April 22, 2007 - Chichester, England: Highly Anticipated Scientific Study Halted by Obstacles
Plans for an important new scientific study by Bricolm and Vesterclavin have been abruptly canceled after insurmountable technical difficulties were encountered with methodology. It was hoped that the proposed study would shed much needed light on the brain physiology of people enamored of simple three chord songs in all areas of popular music. The significance of this study was to be centered on its attempt to, once and for all, clarify the old “chicken or the egg” speculations concerning whether constant exposure to simple minded musical structures actually causes brain damage and a consequent lowering of intellectual capabilities or if people attracted to such music simply lacked sufficient intellectual capabilities to begin with. A great deal of effort was expended organizing the proposed rigorous testing and analysis of the brain scans of the participants. The study was to include 700 people between the ages of 14 and 65 who preferred simple pop/rock/country/folk tunes compared to a similar number of people who had no preference but would, in the course of the study, be exposed to extended amounts of mind-numbing three chord repetition. A third like-sized group of people was intended to complete the survey. This third group was to consist of people who detested simple music, instead preferring complex musical forms like dissonant 20th century classical music and jazz. Unfortunately, plans were halted when Bricolm and Vesterclavin could not locate enough people (who fell into this latter category) to satisfy the statistical requirements of the study. In fact, they were only able to find a total of 5 people who qualified in the third category. Adding further damage to the goals of the study was the uncomfortable fact that, of the 5, all had advanced educational degrees, including a physicist and a mathematician. Curiously, 2 of the 5 were Nobel Laureates. Sir Anthony Bricolm expressed disappointment at the failure of the study and pessimism for any future plans to conduct similar studies. In a rather tart statement, Dr. Reginald Vesterclavin stated, “Unfortunately, it appears that there are just too few really smart people out there to make such a study feasible. It appears we may never know the answer.” A second study examining tastes in Art, tentatively titled “Velvet Clowns and the Kinkade Phenomenon,” may meet a similar fate.
Scientific Ignorance Magazine, Aug. 2009 issue: Earth's Rotational and Orbital Destabilization Detected
Disturbing new satellite data is being examined that could have far-reaching implications for the future of planet Earth. Scientists were alarmed to note new data indicating small but distinctly measurable perturbations in the rotational stability of the Earth. These perturbations appear to be increasing in intensity as well. Initial inspection of the data revealed no obvious cause for the accelerating changes since such rotational anomalies would almost necessarily be related to changes in the distribution of the mass of the Earth. No immediate mechanism for such a shift in concentration could be identified. Left unchecked, the increased “wobble” in the rotation of the Earth could destabilize its orbit leading to a truly cataclysmic fate, possibly even the planet hurtling into the Sun. The puzzling data was fed into one of the world's largest and stunningly capable super computers: The Miles Shillengeri Institute For Advanced Studies' huge “Big, Big Bertha” array. This computer is capable of rapid comparisons of huge amounts of data from virtually all scientific sources and public information services. Within hours the first of three shocking correlations was revealed. The increase in the distribution of mass was clearly centered in the United States of America. The second correlation was with the growth, over the past four decades, of the fast food industry. The third correlation was the commensurate increase in the collective weight of the population of the United States, a general increase conservatively estimated at 30% to 45%. Further tests and measurements will be needed but, tentatively, the nearly inescapable conclusion is that the obesity epidemic in the United States could result in hitherto unsuspected consequences for the longevity of not just its overly fed inhabitants but the very planet itself. Jeremy Guffdorf of the Shillengeri Institute ventured, “The Earth may fall victim to the 'super-sizing' of a percentage of its human population. When a customer is asked, 'do you want fries with that?,' a 'yes' answer could eventually mean frying the entire planet!” Caveat emptor.
March 12, 2010 - Berryville, Texas: World Champion True Believer
Arnold Jasper, local NRA organizer, trailer park resident, and amateur guitar picker, has, by all accounts, set the bar to a new high when it comes to belief in the supernatural. After spending several years contemplating the pros and cons of various religious choices he came to the astonishing conclusion that his best choice was to believe in all of them. So, Mr. Jasper apparently decided to embrace belief in every single one of the approximately 4500 Gods and Goddesses worshiped over the course of man's history – Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, Thor, Aphrodite, Jupiter, and on and on. All of them. But he didn't confine himself to the wide variety of Deities. He also adopted belief in leprechauns, fairies, alien visitations, psychics, ESP practitioners, and ghosts. If it was invisible and untestable he was determined to accept it as fact. “It's like a diversified investment portfolio; why place all your bets on one of them when you could pray to all of them and almost guarantee that one or more of them would come through for you when needed? It just makes sense to spread the risk around while taking advantage of what each one of them has to offer!” Arnold sees many powerful advantages to his all-inclusive approach. “If I play my cards right I can get the best of everything. The leprechauns supply me with gold, aliens can whisk me off the planet and out of danger (if the need arises,) psychics can keep me in touch with my deceased family members, and people with ESP can find my car keys for me when I lose them. Then there are the multitude of Gods and Goddesses at my constant beck and call. Their combined powers would dwarf the largest nuclear arsenals – it's literally the power of the entire Universe (and beyond) at my disposal! And, collectively, they are bound to favor me since I'm probably the only person on earth that believes in all of them!” The previous quotes were taken from an interview with Mr. Jasper last Saturday evening. Unfortunately, immediately after the interview Mr. Jasper slipped as he walked to his car and impaled himself on a broken street lamp. In and of itself this would not have been life-threatening but apparently the scent of blood caught the attention of a nearby pack of wild, ravenous Chihuahuas and Mr. Jasper was ever-so-slowly devoured over the course of the following few hours. The remains of his body were found the next morning by a small group of women walking to church. Mrs. Emily Boyer, who was among those who encountered Mr. Jasper's body, said, “it was awful . . . just awful, but we are going to say a special prayer for him today. It's the least we can do.”
December 29, 2012 - Roswell, New Mexico
The stunning decryption of a group of alien artifacts was revealed last week at a little-publicized press conference. The artifacts, in the form of two stone tablets, were discovered over 65 years ago in the purported wreckage of a crashed alien spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico and had defied all efforts to translate its inscriptions – until now. The key to the decryption turned out to be a seemingly unrelated bit of wreckage labeled (curiously, in English) “Key to Stone Tablets.” It hadn't occurred to anyone until last week to connect the artifacts. No matter. Once the “key” had been recognized it was short work to translate both tablets. The revelations on the tablets caught everyone off guard. The tablets summarize an ancient plot to drastically stunt the development of mankind (including the use of the oxymoronic term “mankind.”) The tablets clearly outline a multi-pronged plan to reduce the full mental potential of homo sapiens by inculcating a number of crippling cultural imperatives intended to impose social limitations, thus reducing the human capacity to efficiently solve problems, do research, and generally advance themselves in any effective way. This scheme was apparently originally implanted thousands of years ago as a means of protecting the Alien world from the rapidly evolving Earthly hominid species.
It's not the purpose of this article to cover the contents of the tablets in depth but they included the following measures:
- To effectively neutralize over half the human population's brain power by restricting intellectual roles to just the male of the species. Use the idea of “family” as a foundation for this by limiting female activities to tending children.
- To make people very “tribal” and distrustful of other humans outside their immediate group. A divided population is an easily controlled population and progress in many areas can be effectively thwarted using this technique.
- To build a “gladiatorial” conflict ethic into the human cultural structure so that people highly prize warriors and weapons while rewarding those who adhere to these ethical guidelines as “heroes.” Create "sports" and other games as a training ground for warrior behavior, including also assigning to sports participants similar "hero" status. This way the human population will naturally reduce its own numbers by inflicting violence upon themselves. Aliens need do nothing but watch.
- To install a monetary system of exchange that encourages the accumulation of great wealth at the expense of all other considerations. Absolutely ALL other considerations. This too will divide the population and make them less likely to work industriously together toward goals that might be contrary to the Aliens' best interests. Resultant discontent from the disparity between "haves" and "have nots" would likely encourage violent outbursts within their ranks, again, reducing the population. Very advantageous to the Aliens.
- To institutionalize superstition and mythology with the intent of slowing the progress of solid scientific inquiry. Slowing humanity's technical progress and its understanding of the actual physical properties of the Universe (as opposed to bogus imaginary properties) obviously serves Alien interests. The plan has worked brilliantly so far.
These are just a few of the highlights gleaned from these remarkable stone tablets. Professor Phineas Fricassee of Arachnid on the Thames recently speculated that these two tablets (or similar copies) must have been present in ancient times when these principles first took hold and, if so, they could have been mistranslated by humans using some other (mistaken) artifact applied as a “key” to give a spurious translation, thus keeping early humans from realizing that they were being duped by external forces. Historians are now trying to find some matching evidence to support this speculation but, so far, have been unable to identify any ancient examples that seem to correspond to the unusual form of two stone tablets. We will need to leave that speculation open for now and hope that humanity can use this newly translated information to break the bonds of Alien intervention revealed by this monumental discovery. As expressed by Timothy Sapperstein of the Foundation for Ending Idiocy, “I would love to see the look on an Alien's face (assuming they have a face, of course) when they see (uh, . . . assuming they actually have eyes) that humanity has deciphered their destructive ruse and purged itself of all of these counter-productive principles. See who get the last laugh now!! (that is, . . . ummm . . . assuming they know what a 'laugh' is . . .)”
Rick Hopkins' 40th Birthday Tribute
The following historic recording was recently unearthed during a raid by the local constabulary while they were searching for low grade comedy. It reveals little known, unpublished details on the life of one Richard Hopkins, details that were apparently documented in this recording by his older brother Tom at the time of Rick's 40th Birthday. It is included here because it sheds an uncomfortable light on several decades of shocking information concerning the Hopkins family which has been, hitherto, shrouded in mystery. As an aside, it's our loss that orchestras and choirs of such questionable quality are harder to find these days. Certain rather obvious items in the recording have been slightly altered, just because:
Below is the actual mid-90s brochure for The Vocal-Free Zone. The unavoidable conclusion is that I was in no particular hurry to drum up business. True enough; I was plenty busy without having to advertise my availability for music projects that didn't interest me in the least. The result was a brochure that probably should not be used as a template for music studio promotion, assuming a healthy flow of clients from the world of popular music is the desired end. That quite obviously wasn't my desired end.
Non-Standard Cover Art
The two above speak for themselves. Both were collections of recordings.
I recently found the following graphics files for a proposed CD project in the late '90s. It would have been an historic undertaking had it come to fruition. Unfortunately, Visreksic Jazz remains a largely undocumented footnote in the history of Jazz. We must settle for descriptions like the one supplied by the liner notes of this project. Pity.
I discovered an earlier attempt in the form of a cassette cover using, of all things, a dot matrix printer. This probably dates from the mid-80s. The "Flugel Gourmet" play on words is somewhat unsavory in light of later allegations about Jeff Smith but this cassette cover came long before that happened:
Next, we have a scrap of paper containing my scribblings that didn't deserve to survive the last 40 years. Alas, it did.
Skits, Sound Effects, and Audio Editing
In the late '60s, while still too young to know any better, my good friend Mike Stowell and I tested my skills at razor blade audio tape editing, audio track bouncing, and Foley (sound effects) work with a skit that took its inspiration from The Firesign Theater. The Firesign Theater it is not. Nevertheless, we obviously enjoyed ourselves creating this questionably-conceived effort and, interestingly, the use of such primitive sound editing tools was actually pretty effective. Mike gets credit for the majority of the conception/scripting and half of the voice work, which conveniently reduces my culpability - even though the other half of the voice work is, embarrassingly, me. In my defense, Mike had a diabolical, Svengali-like influence over me that I was ill-equipped to fight! He still has that influence over me today he just calls it being my lawyer. Further credits: Mike takes on the voice chores of the doctor's patient, the soap opera announcer, the woman in the soap opera, the choir announcer, one of the choir voices, and collaborates on the sound effects; I get to be the doctor's receptionist, the doctor, the man in the soap opera, one of the choir voices and the hearing aid salesman at the end. In the case of the choir we were adding our voices in an attempt to augment a truly hideous recording that Mike had discovered in an 88 cent record bin. Somehow we succeeded in making it even more hideous, which was, of course, our goal! Mike is on the left giving the sopranos a lift and I'm on the right bolstering the tenors. If you've ever tried lifting a soprano or bolstering a tenor (in broad daylight) you know what an ordeal that can be. After years of languishing on a shelf this recording now sees the light of day and Mike and I both greatly regret that unfortunate illumination. With apologies all around, here it is:
A Peculiar Job Promotion
In the 1970s and early '80s, in addition to music, I worked a four hour morning job at a local hotel as a bellman/courtesy van driver - a typical musician's extra day job. It was an easy job that paid reasonably well for a minimal investment of time and, consequently, I stayed for eleven years. As with most things, I didn't tend to take the job very seriously. I recently found the following mementos of my time long ago with Hilton Hotels. The first is a phony letter I somehow slipped into the morning hotel business mail. It was addressed to the assistant bell captain of the hotel, Hal Johns (not his actual name, altered here to protect the innocent) and he found the letter waiting for him when he arrived for work that morning. Be alerted that the typewriter I used to dash off this letter was in less than pristine condition so it isn't the easiest document to read but the rewards for doing so are minimal:
A Few Strategically-Placed Letters Can Make All the Difference
The second is a scrap of paper from one of the rare occasions when I worked the night shift as the lone bellman at the hotel. Management had left a note on the fireplace in the lobby that read:
I surreptitiously added a few extra letters to the message and it became:
When the bell captain arrived in the morning to begin the day he walked near the fireplace and noticed the message. He came back to the bell stand, leaned over to me and whispered: "Who urinated on the fireplace?" Mission accomplished.
High School English Assignment
Hidden in one of the boxes of memorabilia was the following piece of satire from my senior year of high school. Apparently, I had my misgivings about the barrage of testing that we were undergoing in preparation for advancing to college. My English teacher, Miss Kathryn Halvorson, had given us an assignment to write something about anything that interested us. The following is what ended up on her desk a day late (of course it was a day late - typical behavior from me!) Definitely not your standard high school English paper. This is how it looked when I turned it in:
Fortunately, Miss Halvorson had a wry sense of humor, was apparently quite tolerant of my eccentric behavior and not only didn't penalize me significantly for my cheeky efforts but got in a few parting shots of her own when she graded said paper. This is what the title page looked like when it was graded and returned to me (I'm placing the text of her comments afterward so don't strain yourself trying to read this):
And here's the last page as it appeared:
The user-friendly text of her comments:
"This is excellent and a well-taken satire giving sufficient criticism to substantiate a superior grade notwithstanding the late status of the paper and the latent possibilities of varied interpretations on the scales of intelligence, motor-skills and creativity. Nonetheless all factors considered and the innate characteristics of the author in mind the peruser can but conclude that a great quantity of mental struggle and physical application surrounded the emergence of this superior piece of work and it, therefore, noting the travail, toil and tears of said author, deserves that epitome of rewards which every student, whether strong or weak, desires wholeheartedly and without reservation. Your grade is then:
See enclosed answer sheet for answer and possible interpretations:
A- for brilliance of achievement
B+ for brilliance, tempered by the late appearance of the paper on the desk of the instructor.
F for Ferguson (Maynard)
P.S. Answer – if you chose 1 you were correct."
Limericks R Us
After we had read through a rather large book of limericks in the late '70s I added this one to the back of the book for my wife Amy:
"20th Century Pastiche" CD Wins the Coveted EDA:
If you've actually made it this far, congratulations! You must be exhausted. Keep in mind that this could prove, for you, to be a striking moment of self-realization for having had the fortitude to push onward toward the completion of a task that you didn't really request. As a result, this achievement could become a pivotal point in your life, changing the context of everything you do from now on while illuminating your way forward in the years to come. But I rather doubt it.