“Something tells me I’m into something good…”

I’m not complaining, but I’m just stating the fact that 2011 hasn’t been a very productive year.  Oh, I’ve produced things.  I pulled off my first academic presentation and am still awaiting word of what could be a huge publication score.  I have things coming down the pike in the next couple of months.  But you know, I think part of my damage is that for a couple of years now, I’ve been writing “made-to-order” stuff.  I think I need to write something for me.  But what?

I don’t know a lot about the Brill Building.  I have a sense about its place in musical history.  I have a vague notion of what they talk about when they talk about the “Brill Building Sound” (and of the controversy behind that term).  I kinda know some of the big names involved.

But here’s the thing: I know is that it’s the place where I want to set my next short story. 

I first learned about the Brill Building as I was looking up a bit of background on songwriter Laura Nyro.  I always knew I was going to write something inspired by her or her music from the first time I really started really listening to it. But this idea of the Brill Building really grabbed me.  Something about this music factory, this place that was (arguably) just as much about commerce as it was about art, where people competed to get their songs heard by an executive, published, and made into a hit record is resonating with me somehow.

Apparently, it’s the subject of a documentary due out soon.  Tell me this doesn’t sound more or less like the racket we writers are involved in, huh?

Anyway, I have no idea what this story is going to be about, or how much of it will actually involve the Brill Building, Laura Nyro, or her music.  I do know that this is the story’s playlist so far (all by Nyro):

  • “The Confession”
  • “Billy’s Blues”
  • “Stoney End”
  • “And When I Die”
  • “He’s a Runner”
  • “Wedding Bell Blues”
  • “Lu”
  • “Eli’s Coming”
  • “Timer”
  • “Stoned Soul Picnic”

One of These Is Not Like the Others

I was doing research down a line similar to this–I guess you could call it music video anthropology–and I stumbled on some live performances from the Tower of Power of their classic song “So Very Hard To Go,” performed by various line-ups of the band over 35 or so years.

Now, I’m not saying anything about quality.  Just that one of these is not like the others.

I’m just saying.

Going on an Office Depot Run

I’m actually too tired to check if this is real or sheer BS…

In the current issue of the journal Nature, Dr. Putterman and his colleagues report that surprisingly fierce flows of electrons were unleashed as the tape was unpeeled and its gooey adhesive snapped free of the surface. The electrical currents, in turn, generated strong, short bursts of X-rays — each burst, about a billionth of a second long, contained about 300,000 X-ray photons.

How does one even think to check for something like this? It’s like wondering who exactly was the first human being to discover that licking certain species of toad could get you high.

The Evolution of a Rock Band

There’s a story to be had in this this (not necessarily Chicago-related) about how look and sound evolve–or maybe I should say adapt–over a few decades.

Only the beginning…

Playing free, or in the three, or agreeing to attempt something new…

Disco wasn’t quite dead yet…


80s hair…

90s hair…

Almost full circle…

Full circle, and going back around…again…

Filed Under: “Can’t Make This Up”

WASHINGTON (AP) — Famed chef Julia Child shared a secret with Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg at a time when the Nazis threatened the world. They served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Sort of reminds me of this 1980s TV “gem,” Masquerade

Google Disease

io9 might be afraid to call this site Google Disease(tm), but I’m not.

HealthMap brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. This freely available Web site integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources (such as Google News) to curated personal accounts (such as ProMED) to validated official alerts (such as World Health Organization).