Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas On Arcturus

Happy Holidays one and all!

Sorry, I can't find anything with a Chanukah theme in my old sketchbooks, but here's a heart-warming extraterrestrial holiday family gathering circa 1976.  It's sort of a sequel to the story/drawing I posted in March 2011.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

1,000 Governments

Wow - our You Tube video of "Government" has now been viewed more than one thousand times!  (And no, we haven't been watching it ourselves over and over again, like some scene out of "A Clockwork Orange", to artificially inflate the numbers!)
It's been a long time since we first posted the video, and even longer since the song was recorded.  (At that time it took three people with both hands on the mixing board controls, over and over until it was just right.)
So - what's new and different?  Let's check today's newspaper...

Government wants low taxes for the richest 1%, who will then create jobs for the other 99%

For Perry, Private Jets Have Been Key to Public Job

It is up to Silvio Berlusconi to keep Italy from becoming another Greece and plunging the world into an even more devastating financial crisis

Said to Eye Strike on Iran, Israel Won't Answer

Jon S. Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey, stepped down as chief executive of the bankrupt firm MF Global on Friday, and will not seek his $12 million in severance payments

Bleak Portrait of Poverty Is Off the Mark, Experts Say

Just as I suspected - things are pretty much the same (or worse).  And I still feel sorry for the government.  Although that last item sure makes me feel a whole lot better; how about you?

Happy Election Day!

A true-life story from my sketchbook:

- Mike

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ask Doctor New Middle Class

We recently received an email titled "I think you just saved my son's life...well, maybe I'm exaggerating..."  See the full text below for the heartbreaking but inspirational story.  Finally, undeniable proof that New Middle Class is good for your health! - with helpful hidden tips in our songs, emails and web pages.

Send us your own story of how you, or a friend or family member, were healed by New Middle Class.  We know there must be many, many more of you out there.
- Dr. New Middle Class, M.D., C.D., M.P.3.

Nine years ago, my son started getting sores in his mouth.  As his cousin had had the same symptom three years earlier and it led to a diagnosis of Crohn's disease, I panicked and took him to doctors high and low until one doctor decided that he was allergic to potatoes. I thought he was nuts, as I'd never heard of a potato allergy before.  But we tested the theory and found that, indeed, as long as he avoided potatoes, there were no sores.

Fast forward to current times.  My son comes home from college.  Suddenly, the sores are reappearing. But he isn't eating potatoes.  Then you send me your newsletter, and since it's 2 AM and I can't sleep I listen to every song, go to every link, read every article, and find in "A Brief History of SongLand" [via our Links page]: "Yet somehow SongLand was settled and prospered as a humble agrarian society, until the country was torn by a bloody Revolution, when Boris and Natasha Borok attempted to create a New Middle Class, forcing the populace to sing atonal folk songs and drink only vodka derived from organically grown potatoes."

Yahoo! Answers confirms: "Vodka can be produced from a variety of things including grain, potatoes, molasses, beets, and a variety of other plants."

Why in the world did I teach my son when he returned from school in May that there's nothing like frozen vodka????

Next time I need a medical diagnosis, I'm coming back to your site!

- Marcia S., New Jersey

SongLand (left to right): Barbara, Mike, Joe, Dan, Stonehenge

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Life

Hooray! - the video for our new song, "Another Life", is finished at last and posted on You Tube.  It's got twice as many images as our "Government" video, so it ended up taking lots more time than I had expected.  Of course, this is true of all my projects.
In the next life, I hope to transcend this personality flaw.
Although if it's my karma to return as a worm or an insect, I won't have to worry about that.  I'll be worried about birds.
Do worms worry?
Anyway, it was really fun finding the images and choosing the transitional effects.  When I saw the picture of the baby wearing virtual reality goggles, I knew it had to be the final slide, and that I would lead into it with a series of psychedelically accelerating visions a la "A Day in the Life".
Somewhat less fun was working with freeware Slide Show Movie Maker, which doesn't have the ability to easily sync images with audio.  That means I had to guess how many seconds each image and cross-fade should last, then compile and view the video, change values and repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.
Not surprisingly, by now I have every image and fade memorized.  Waking or sleeping.  This is not a particularly good thing.
I'm hoping I can flush out and de-program myself by watching a Three Stooges film festival, or a marathon of House or Family Guy episodes.
And I have no idea how to describe or categorize this song/video.  The only thing I'm sure of is that it's a sort-of tribute to Mrs. Vlock at PS 114, whom tried to teach me the distinction between "me and you" and "you and me".
So watch the video a few times (but be careful - not too many times!), share it with your friends, and then do something to get involved socially or politically.
Or don't.  It's your karma.  Wave your antennae and watch out for that robin.
* * *
It's springtime, and the world is still here.  Time to pick up the guitar and start rehearsing - we'll be doing some performing soon.  Stay tuned.
- Mike

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Are The Odds? (plus Altercation On Arcturus)

Just after I had written my last blog entry where I mentioned that great (and rarely played) song "IGY" by Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan), I walked into a store, and it was the first song to come over the speakers.  I was able to resist buying the sound system only by focusing on the extraordinary coincidence.

Which reminded me - just last week, I happened to be watching Mega-Python vs. Gatoroid on TV (there was nothing by Shakespeare on PBS at the time), and I thought that the grizzled and canny game warden looked and sounded extremely familiar.  Then I figured it out: it must be a grizzled Mickey Dolenz (of The Monkees), down on his luck and forced to take a bit part in an embarrassingly corny (but fascinating!) made-for-TV movie.

But when I pushed the Info button on my remote, Dolenz wasn't in the credits - it wasn't him.
Five minutes later, it was mentioned that someone would be bringing a performing monkey to the wildlife center fund-raiser.  And shortly after that - you guessed it - the performing monkey turned out to be a performing Monkee, Mickey Dolenz, not grizzled but looking puffy and Botox'd, with a higher voice, more like I remembered from his critically acclaimed starring role in Circus Boy.   ( [SPOILER ALERT] Mickey was eaten by a mega-python just as he was about to sing "one of his most popular songs" - damn!  I bet it would have been "I'm A Believer".)

And could it be coincidence that I happened at the same time to be re-reading (for the first time since teenhood) The Non-Statistical Man by Raymond F. Jones, in which the world experiences a wave of occurrences which defy the laws of statistical prediction?

I think not!

From my's a drawing that reflects today's sci-fi theme:

Actually, it's an illustration for this vignette which opens the sketch book:

The creature that pursued him was close behind.  He could hear trees snapping and the lush tropical foliage being trampled.  Then, just off to his right, he suddenly heard an unearthly scream of female terror.  Instinctively, he veered towards the sound, careless now of the death that closely followed, and as he burst into the clearing, an unbelievable scene was revealed to his amazed gaze.
An alien being with several arms and a long nose squatted before an unplugged portable television set.  It absently munched a handful of mud.  As he gaped at this primal scene, he felt a tap on his shoulder from behind.  He quickly turned to find himself staring down the long barrel of an atomic blaster!

Regards from Arcturus,


Thursday, February 17, 2011

"I Was Born"

Or maybe that should be, "I Was Reborn".  Hmm - there's an interesting idea for a song...

Anyway, all sorts of stuff seems to  accumulate on shelves, in filing cabinets, on disks and cassettes (!) and in my head, and it might be all right to share some of it.

My idea for this blog is to do more or less the same spontaneous thing we do on stage (minus the songs).  So I envision writing my entries, and when the spirit moves her, Barbara will respond, react, or just go off on her own.  I wouldn't attempt to predict what she will blog about - except that you should not expect her to post the recipe for her famous cheesecake.

And replies/comments from you, Gentle Reader, are strongly encouraged.  I'd love for this to evolve from a blog into a conversation.

So, here goes:

I've been putting the final touches on a recording of our latest song, "Another Life", which we expect to release within a week or so.  (I guess this would be the 2nd song in the trilogy "I Was Born" / "Another Life" / "I Was Reborn".)

Every so often, songs or parts of songs come to me in dreams.  Usually, by the time I wake up and try to capture what I dreamed, most of it is gone and I might remember bits.  Or sometimes it turns out that what seemed so original was actually a song I've heard before.  Like the time I wrote "Yesterday".

This time, it was just a line: "The world is in a simple, everyday household mess".  Oh, great!  Now it was my job to figure out what that could possibly mean.  I was pretty sure it wasn't about a new foaming cleanser.  Well, it's true, the world really is a mess, and every day there's a new one.  What's a person to do?

The more I thought about it, the more depressing it seemed.  So that settled it - I had to write a song that was catchy, tuneful and upbeat, so you might not notice until you find yourself singing along that it's one heck of a depressing song.

Or maybe it is hopeful after all - depends how you look at it.

My idea of fun: toss in a bunch of references and influences, including Brave New World, offshore oil spills, Harold Rosenberg, God's promise to Noah, that ad with the polar bear floating on a bit of ice, the Nazi party (not really, just kidding), the Beatles single Hey Jude / Revolution, and one of my all-time favorite songs, "IGY" by Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan).

More about this later.

Maybe it would be nice to close out this post with a drawing from one of my old sketch books: