And Then There Were None

and then there were none cover

In this edition of Tapes on Books, we provide audio accompaniment for Agatha Christie’s paranoia-drenched bloody whodunit, And Then There Were None. Guests are mysteriously picked off one by one in accordance with a cute little nursery rhyme (also about people gruesomely dying one by one). Aren’t old nursery rhymes great?

Check to see if your little Indian figurine is still standing here.

Indian Island: Soul’s Island – Lee Hazlewood

The Party: The Guests – Leonard Cohen
“Has anybody here seen that movie Clue? I love that movie! Have you seen it? Oh, you got to see it! Tim Curry, Martin Mull, CLASS-IC! ‘I’m gonna go go home and sleep with my wife’ Ha. Seriously, you haven’t seen it?”

U.N. Owen: Invisible Man – The Breeders
Coolest mystery host name ever.

The Poem: Ten Little Indians – Harry Nilsson

Though this Nilsson song is only tangentially related to the book’s ominous nursery rhyme (changed to a slightly less anachronistic, offensive version of the original published title), it still has that hard-to-replicate impending sense of doom sound.

The Record: Guilt Parade – The Birthday Party
Typically when somebody breaks out the record accusing me of willing complacency in somebody’s death, I leave that party. Of course, it kind of depends on how good the bar is at said party.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.: Chokin’ Kind – Waylon Jennings
If I were a betting man, I would give pretty good odds to the cause of my mortal coil shuffling off being caused by a lodged chicken wing. At least, 3 to 1.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.: Sleeping Pills – Suede
The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, living, last-breath-you’ll-ever-take medicine.

Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.: Fatal Wound – Uncle Tupelo
I can honestly say, I was never worried about being bludgeoned by a life preserver until after reading this book. Now, I can’t even go near a pool. Thanks a bunch, Agatha.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.: Split Myself in Two – Meat Puppets
You’d think a person might think twice about going to the woodshed after it has been made pretty clear that there is a psycho-killer in the midst. You know, avoid remote places with lots of readily available axes and dull tools.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five.: I Got Stung – Elvis Presley
In defense of the bees, they didn’t really kill anyone in this book. However, I’ll never trust them buggers ever since they took out Macaulay Culkin in My Girl. Bastards.

Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were Four.: Bad Indian – Gun Club
Wait? So the killer dressed the judge up like a judge and then shot him? Nice murder, Captain Obvious.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.: Fool – Neutral Milk Hotel / Over the Cliff – Old 97’s
“Oh man! Red Herring! Just like in Clue! ‘Communism was just a red herring’. I forget, did say you’ve seen Clue? Oh man, it is SO good. Why are pushing me towards that cliff? Heeeeyyyyy???”

Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.: Boppin’ To Grandfather’s Clock – Sidney Jo Lewis
This song is the closest approximation of the sound of getting squished by  a giant bear cuckoo clock that I could hunt down. Not an easy sound to find. By the way, does anybody know where I can buy a giant bear clock. I mean, I don’t to flatten anyone… I just want one for my den, I promise.

Two little Indian boys were out in the sun; One got all frizzled up and then there was one.: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Gabor Szabo
In light of all the gun control debate these days, isn’t it refreshing to read about a good old-fashioned gun murder before all these liberal crazies wanted universal background checks and reasonable regulations?

One little Indian boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.: Swinging Party – The Replacements / Swingin’ – Low
No noose is good noose. Of course, that would make the opposite is true too, right?

Epilogue Investigation: Perfect Crime – The Decemberists
Stumped authorities? Come on, detectives! One island. Ten bodies. No survivors. No escape. This should be open and shut case. Donut time.

Letter in the Bottle: I Confess – Kevin Coyne / Wicked World – Daniel Johnston
One of the best endings of any mystery book I have read. The genius of the book is made clear in the confession and detailing the execution of sinister plot. And in the psychologically disturbing off-kilter motive and justification.  Especially unsettling, because even though you know that this probably never would happen, it still could.

If on a winter’s night a traveler

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You are about to listen to the Tapes On Books mix for If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. Relax. Concentrate. Adjust the volume on your laptop. Plug in your headphones. Tell your family to back off, you are about to listen to a damned book-mix-thing and you just want to be left alone for a minute, dammit. Are you drinking? Maybe, you should start drinking. It couldn’t hurt, cause, really, you care little for the book. It was kind of a jumbled mess when you first read it in college. You get it…how a book about the ritual of reading is a great idea. And it was a pretty hip book, overall. And very “meta” as you recall. But if you are being honest, you were really just trying to woo that girl who worked in the library by reading such an “out there” novel. Man, that chick was smoking. Oh well, that didn’t work for you either. You’re pretty much guessing the mix isn’t too good. You peruse the songs. Pretty predictable. And overly goofy. You are imagining that the guy who made this thinks he is pretty fricking smart. A real Einstein of mix-making. Talking Heads? “Oh. I never heard of them,” you say to yourself with your internal sarcastic tone. Dean Martin…is he for real? Two Elvis Costello songs, you note. You wonder what sort of jackass uses two Costello songs in one mix. And, you don’t even want to get started on Belle & Sebastian. Gawd, you hope this blogger doesn’t try to get cute. He’ll likely cut off the last part of the songs or something stupid and pretentious like that. What an ostentatious prick. You can just see him sitting there in his tight jeans and ironic band t-shirt. Black-rimmed glasses. Ugh. Never mind him, you are confident in your tastes. Nothing to fret about really. You decide again you might as well give the mix a try. What else are you going to do for the next hour while you are Facebook stalking and ebaying Ghostbusters memorabilia? Okay, settle in. Volume up? Oh, yes, you did that already.

Finally, you move the cursor over the link that says, If on a winter’s night a mix. You click. A jangling guitar rings in your ears.

You, the Reader: The Book I Read – Talking Heads
Oh, hi you. You, the reader, second person hero of the book. Well, sometimes you are you and sometimes you are the reader. And sometimes, the reader is the reader and you are just you the reader not “you, the reader”. And sometimes you are the other reader. Or sometimes the author. Or sometimes the other reader or the author talking about you, the reader. It just kinda depends on how you, the reader, or you, the other reader, or you, the author, are feeling about reading and how you are feeling about you.

If on a winter’s night a traveler: Casablanca Moon – Slapp Happy
Bogarting the Bogart. I do love the Noir sensibilities of the title story. I think I’d be okay if every story began with some type of mysterious suitcase. I sometimes carry a suitcase around to seem mysterious. I think mostly people think I am just a vagrant accountant.

Ludmilla, the Other Reader: Is She Weird – The Pixies
I love how Ludmilla as a character goes from some flimsy rom-com love interest to international book printing conspirator to tortured-writer’s muse. And the best (or worst) part is that in the end you start to figure out that Calvino likes Ludmilla, the reader, a whole heck of alot more than you, the reader. Ouch.

outside the town of Malbork: Editions of You – Roxy Music
Just remember there is always a better version of you waiting in the wings. A smarter, stronger, cleaner breed. And they totally have a newer iPhone than you do too.

Professors Uzzi-Tuzii and Galligani: Dead Language – Bedhead
My dead culture is preferable to your dead culture.

leaning from the steep slope: Watching the World Go By – Dean Martin
Silas Flannery’s semi-autobiographical ode to symbols, gullibility, and girl-watching is the best Anton Chekhov story that should have never been written. Calvino is the Weird Al of modern literature. Won’t somebody give the man an accordion?

Hermes Marana: The Imposter – Elvis Costello
Okay, I mean, I know he is pretty much just a bad guy stalker, but jealously filling the world with “fake literature” to prove reality is a void and therefore turn off Ludmilla from all her potential reader lovers is kind of sweet in its own way. Confusion for confusion’s sake is a great super-villian power too.

without fear of wind or vertigo: We All, Us Three, Will Ride – Palace Music
It really isn’t easy to find a song that resonates militaristic Ménage à Trois. Somebody should probably write that song.

Irnerio: No Culture Icons – The Thermals
This guy probably stays up all night on Pinterest looking at artsy book shelves and shit.

looks down in the gathering shadow: There Goes Your Corpse Again – Deadly Snakes
This story is one Conga line scene away from being the novelization of Weekend at Bernies 2.

Lotaria: Every Word – Holly Golightly
Even though you never know who sis is going to show up as, you’ll know that she will be hanging on to your every word. Har har.

in a network of lines that enlace: Hanging On the Telephone – Blondie
Postmodernism called. They want their gibberish back.

in a network of lines that intersect: Kaleidoscope – Ride
If I ever become an insanely paranoid billionaire, I definitely need a kaleidoscope room and minions of body doubles. I could probably do without the murderous spouse.

Diary of Silas Flannery: Every Day I Write the Book – Elvis Costello / Reader Meet Author – Morrissey  
The diary section was by far my favorite part of the book – literary espionage, parables of peeping tom authors, philosophical neurosis, unrequited love (I mean, who doesn’t go for Ludmilla in this book?), figurative vampire readers, and literal alien ghost writers.

0n the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon: Flowers of Romance – PIL
Important relationship advice – if you are going to screw your boss’ wife make sure you do it in front of him and his daugher…but, you know, in a tasteful artsy way.

Apocrypha: Ghost Writing – Neko Case
“…He adds that in the final analysis there is nothing to be shocked about, since, in his view, literature’s worth lies in its power of mystification, in mystification it has its truth, therefore a fake, as the mystification of a mystification, is tantamount to a truth squared.”

around an empty grave-: Ain’t No Grave – Johnny Cash
Isn’t strange how Johnny Cash just sounds like magical realism now? How does one become that awesome?

Prison Library: Young Adult Friction – Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Getting your bones jumped in a prison library I would imagine be rather unpleasant. So, okay, in this case, it’s is more like getting your bones jumped in a secret organization’s possibly fake prison where books are fed into a giant machine and analysed. Either way, you, the reader, seem to take it all in stride.

What story down there awaits its end?: Blank Frank – Brian Eno
Remember that episode of Star Trek with the teen with awesome powers but can’t talk to girls so he just makes them disappear or turns them to iguanas? Italo totally cribbed this one from that one.

The Eight Readers: Tell Me A Story – Iggy Pop
To tell you the truth, I pretty much lost focus around the part where the eight dudes start talking about which types of books they like and waxing poetic about Arabian Nights. So, yeah, here is a song that probably works. Oh and in full disclosure, I never read Arabian Nights either. So, I really have no clue what the hell was happening…or is happening.

-he asks, anxious to hear the story.: Wrapped Up in Books – Belle & Sebastian
YES! Finally, an ending! Readers live happily ever after…

The End?: All Over Again – Jay Reatard
Oh. Wait. WHAT? That’s the ending? Really? One of those looping book things? I mean, seriously. Oh. Okay. Thanks.

The Old Man and the Sea

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Pain, suffering, and loss are just vehicles personal triumph and dignity in Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella The Old Man and The Sea.  Take a nice and relaxing deepsea fishing adventure with a salty old sailor and his trusty boat.  Written in rich and complexly interwoven language. With lots of run on sentences. Good, strong run-on sentences. Sentences that were running on when I was a boy. Sentences that will run on forever.

84 days without catching a mix…today just may be your day.

“Man is not made for defeat…A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”: The Sea was Calling Me Home – Jonathan Richman

The Sea: The Ocean – Velvet Underground
Lou Reed is basically the rock n roll version of Hemingway: brooding, manly, no nonsense, uncomfortably obsessed with deformed cats and spearing things. I wonder if Hemingway ever dated a guy like Rachel.

The Old Man: Ole Man Trouble – Otis Redding
You gotta love how tough the old codger is. I don’t care if he is allegorical representation of common man’s strength against nature or religion or criticism or whatever…he still is pretty much a Cuban badass. Like Tony Montana with an oar and sardines instead of a M16 and mountains of coke.

The Boy: Fisherman’s Blues – The Waterboys
“Gee, mister. I’d love to fish with you, but my parents think you are cursed, miserable dead weight. But I can carry your tackle box to the boat trip that will most certainly kill you slowly.”

“Salao”: Bad Luck – Langhorn Slim / Troubled Waters – Cat Power
If it wasn’t for bad luck, my life wouldn’t blow.

The Baseball Box Scores: Joe DiMaggio Done It Again – Billy Bragg and Wilco
I imagine that if we got this guy a laptop and a league, he would rock at fantasy. His team name would probably be some horrible fishy pun though like the The Florida Marlin Killerz or the Kirby Buckets of Fishguts or the Blue Gil Meches

Sailing Away: Shiver Me Timbers – Tom Waits
I wish somebody would shiver my timbers. :(

The Skiff: Mystery Ship – Mystic Tide
Row, row, row your boat should not be a funeral dirge. But it works in a pinch.

Drifting: On the Sea – Beach House
You know how the old saying goes: “Water, water, everywhere. Drink as much as you’d like.”

The Fish, My Brother: Strangers – The Kinks
“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.” Truth.

Cramped Hands: I’m Cramped – The Cramps
(This is a song about being cramped in case you hadn’t figured that out)
This dude held on to a slicing fish line with cramped, bloody hands for several days and I complain of thumb aches after playing a rigorous round of Angry Birds. Sigh.

“I Wish the Boy Were Here”: Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry, but you know, it does have a line about a fish…so it totally fits.

The Night: The Sea and The Rhythm – Iron and Wine
Well, if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear the relationship old man and the marlin is just slightly romantic.  I mean the moonlit evenings, the sweet nothings, the soft caresses. What happens at sea…stays in the waves.

The Catch: You Really Got a Hold on Me – Percy Sledge
I’m totally hooked on this song. It has a line to my heart. It just keeps reeling me in. It leaves me with bait-ed breath. (Next time I do that, please email me and remind me to slap myself in the face)

Shark Attack: Shark Attack!!! – Los Superavengers
“At least, I’ve got this little knife tied to tie to an oar. I chased them off. I should probably be good now, right….”

More Sharks Attack: Shark Attack – The Triptides
“Well, shit.”

Sailing Back: Long Way Home – Tom Waits
Always the best way to get back…And, you’re damn right, two Tom Waits songs.

Admiring The Bones: Sea Shanty – The Pogues
I don’t really know what the hell this song is about. But I figure it as likely to be about a bunch of nautically-inclined folks admiring the size of a marlin skeleton as it is to be about anything else. I am pretty sure Shane MacGowan neither knows nor cares.

Coughing Blood: Not Dark Yet – Bob Dylan
When I read this in high school, I think I definitely identified more with the boy than the old man. During my re-reading, the opposite is very much true. And that kind of freaks me out.

Dreaming of Lions: Skokiann – Louis Armstrong
I know this song probably goes against the mood of the ending, but I just hope my feverish final deathbed dreams are soundtracked by soaring horns and a gleeful Satchmo. Oh, and my wife totally wouldn’t let me use Toto’s Africa.

Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian Cover

This episode we take on Cormac McCarthy’s dark and brutal Western, Blood Meridian. A nameless Kid galivants across the Mexico-Texas border in the late 19th century with a gang of scalp hunting desperadoes – killing first for necessity, then business, then pleasure, and finally habit. A novel both beautiful and disturbing, a nihilistic journey and a moral fable, vast and claustrophobic.

The mix is waiting in the jakes. It is waiting to gather you in its arms against its immense and terrible flesh. You don’t want to go in there.

“See the child. He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt. He stokes the scullery fire. ”: The Man with the Harmonica – Ennio Morricone

The Kid: Nomadic Revery (All Around) – Bonnie Prince Billy
You kind of think that just maybe the kid has some sort of dormant morality and is going to make a positive life change at some point in the story. Play ball with an orphan. Donate to the March of Dimes. Not complacently and mercilessly kill whatever crossed his path. Well, don’t hold your breath.

The Judge: Black Wings – Tom Waits
Giant, hairless, and usually naked is horrible enough. Acting as the otherworldly embodiment of humanity’s passion for war is just the icing on the doom cake. I’m talking evil….This guy slightly edges Khan, Goldfinger, and Alan Rickman’s character in Die Hard as most dastardly pop culture icon.

Massacred: Indian War Whoop – Hoyt “Floyd” Ming
C Mac’s vivid description of the Apaches clad in blood drenched clothes of various and sundry recently-massacred folks (soldiers, conquistadors, brides, grooms, etc.) is enough to make me never ever go camping again.

Glanton: Murderer – Low
Not a good guy. And in a book full of not good guys…he still looks pretty bad.

The Scalp Hunt: Tyed – The Tindersticks
Worst scavenger hunt ever. When I was in boy scouts, I was sent on what I misunderstood to be a scalp hunt. When I was released, I heard we were supposed to be hunting snipe. Sorry, guys. On the plus side, I finally scored that sweet “Most Dangerous Game Hunter” badge.

The Fortune Tellers: Gypsy’s Curse – Calexico
“What luck! We’ve run across a lovely magician family. We should totally get a Tarot reading! Oh, what fun! They would a lot of laughs…and we could all use a good chuckle, am I right, friends? I know what I am asking. When am I going to meet Mrs. Right?”

Tobin: God Out West – Link Wray
“Men of God and men of war have strange affinities.” How about men who are a little bit of both?

Toadvine: Branded Man – Merle Haggard
A tattooed forehead says a lot about a guy. They’re tough. They’re mean. Maybe I ought to consider getting one. I mean think of all the famous face-tattooed folk like Lil’ Wayne, Mike Tyson, Charles Manson. Okay, well, maybe not such a great career move.

David Brown: Lonesome Hunter – Timber Timbre
I love how this is the second character (of three!) to wear severed human ears as jewelry in BM. Flesh bling was already passé by the time DB got to it.

The Jacksons: Jackson – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
A black Jackson and a white Jackson. And they aren’t too fond of each other. Think Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy. Just significantly more racist and gruesome.

The Ferry: Black River Song – Angels of Light
So, the boys forcefully take over a ferry operation. First they increase the price from $1 to $4. Then, inflate it to whatever they think people can pay. Finally, they just decide it’d be easier to outright rob the folks. Its like the 1840s version of a cable company. Here’s hoping that DirectTV won’t eventually just decide it’d be better and faster to simply murder its customers.

Survival: Desert – Other Lives
“Even though I got this arrow in my leg, we’re dying of thirst, living in some bison’s bones, and got a crazed judge hunting us down, I must say, the stars look beautiful tonight, dude.”

“It makes no difference what men think of war, War endures…War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him.”: There is a War – Leonard Cohen
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Well, and maybe some blind dudes in Switzerland.

Toadvine and Brown Hanged: Gallis Pole – Leadbelly

The Kid and The Judge Meet Again: Red Right Hand – Nick Cave
The first time, I finished reading the final chapter of this book, I immediately reread the chapter right away. And then once more. And haven’t trusted humanity quite the same since. Its telling that in a book that revels in the minute detailings of horrifying genocide, disappearing children, and brutal senseless violence, the moment that is left ambiguous and undescribed is perhaps the most frightening of all.

The Outhouse and The Last Dance: The Electrician – The Walker Brothers
Okay, if you take away the name of the song, I think this one carries a disconcerting enough vibe for the final moments of the book. And Scott Walker wasn’t even using meat as a percussion instrument yet.

“He says that he will never die. He dances in light and shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.”: I Knew It Would Come To This – Dirty Three

Crash

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This episode we are taking on JG Ballard’s controversial odyssey of car crash symphorophilia and perverse technology. A bunch of silly Londoners who like to get off by driving into each other do indeed get off by driving into each other. A bit off-kilter TV scientist obsesses over celebrity car crashes and fantasizes about dying in a head-on collision with Elizabeth Taylor. Dependence on technology is taken to the extreme and used for unsavory carnal means (Imagine that!). And all other sorts of fun stuff! Of course, I am using “fun stuff” in the loosest sense of the word.

Since the book is mostly a continuous series of car crashes and consequential sex, we are foregoing the usual format to provide an equally jumbled mix of lustfully suggestive songs, car wreck songs, and (of course) lustfully suggestive car wreck songs. Autocratic autoerotic automobile autointoxication!

So unbuckle up and relax, the mix is flying at you through a shattered windshield sending shivers down your spine and causing a burning sensation in your loins.

In the Kingdom #19 – Sonic Youth
Days of Graduation – Drive-By Truckers
Johny Hit and Run Paulene – X
Cars – Gary Numan
En Melody – Serge Gainsbourg
Detroit Rock City – Kiss
Warm Leatherette – The Normal
Der Feuerstuhl – Die Crazy Girls
Always Crashing In the Same Car – David Bowie
I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass – Nick Lowe
Dead Man’s Curve – Jan and Dean
Cream – Prince
Car Wreck – Haley Bonar
Kiss of Steel – Samhain
The Living End – The Jesus and Mary Chain
Motorcrash – The Sugarcubes
Untitled (How Does It Feel) – D’Angelo
Under My Wheels – Alice Cooper
How I Left the Ministry – The Extra Glenns
Crawling from the Wreckage – Dave Edmunds
Pink Cadillac (Demo) – Bruce Springsteen
Pull Up to the Bumper – Grace Jones
Kiss Them For Me – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Last Kiss – J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers

Wreck you later!

A Christmas Carol

Christmas Carol Cover

In the spirit of the season, this Tape on Book covers Charles Dickens’ classic holiday novella about spirits of the season, A Christmas Carol. The tale of miserable miser’s forced redemption thanks to a ghostly grudge-holding partner and his haint buddies. Check your doorknobs and throw on your best night cap and shirt, tis the hour for Holiday time-traveling!

Tonight, when the bell tolls one, you will be haunted by a mix. Without it, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. (Well you actually probably can, but listen anyways.)

“Bah Humbug”: Scrooge – The Ventures
“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” Dickens, you brilliant bastard. Okay, okay, just one more: “Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”

Ebenezer Scrooge: It’s Money That I Love – Randy Newman
Well, now that Randy Newman is on board for this, you might as well make a some sort of crappy CG-animated version of it. Oh wait…Nevermind.

Bob Cratchit: Well Respected Man – The Kinks
By far this role was Kermit the Frog’s finest work. I am still silenced by the way he powerfully encapsulated the plight of the 19th century working poor in those deeply emotive ping-pong ball eyes.

Face in the Door Knocker: Knocking on Heaven’s Door – Antony and the Johnsons
Perhaps the ghost wouldn’t haunt you if you’d quit banging him in his freakin’ nose.

Jacob Marley: Ghosts – The Jam / Past, Present, Future – Shangri-La’s
Dead, vengeful, and rocking chains and a hanky wrapped round your jaw. Some fashions just never go out of style.

Ghost of Christmas Past: Yesterday – The Bar Kays
Androgynous, whiny, focused on past shortcomings, an affinity for self-torment, swept hair (set on fire, of course) – thusly, Dickens invents emo.

Young Scrooge: Old Man – Neil Young
I imagine there is nothing worse than seeing yourself in the past and realizing that you were just about as miserable as you are now. And considerably less handsome than you remember. Just as dumb though.

Belle, the Ex-Fiancée: Flying Pizza – Swearing at Motorists
There she is…the one that got away. Got away with my ten pound note that is. Boo yah! High Five? Anyone?

Ghost of Christmas Present: Time has Come Today – The Ramones
The Ghost of Xmas Past is definitely the spirit I’d most want to hang with out of the three. He looks like he can really party. A real “live in the now” dude. And you just know he’s not wearing anything under those robes (unlike that Future spook).

The Crachit Family: We’ll Get Ahead Someday – Dolly and Porter
We may be poor, but at least we have each other. Unless, of course, one of us starves to death.

Tiny Tim: Sick Kid – The Babies / Forever Young – Bob Dylan
Creepy invalid impoverished child or creepy gangly ukulele-strumming manchild. I wouldn’t really want to meet either of them in a dark alley. Or a field of tulips. Or in the Victorian ghetto.

Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come: Your Time is Gonna Come – Led Zeppelin
Apparently, the grim reaper was on vacation or something. So we get his less-intimidating and much more British cousin, Ronald Reaper. Come on, C.D.

Mrs. Dilber and Old Joe: Thieves – She & Him
When you are part of the 1840s 1%, you gotta watch your back. As Biggie famously quoth, “Mo Money, Mo Financial Difficulties due to Elaborate Fencing Schemes”.

Scrooge’s Grave: Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard – Tom Waits
I especially love the part where Scrooge’s business associates talk about how they only will go to his funeral for the free lunch. I feel the same way about having to attend my own funeral. By the way, my funeral will be serving bottomless nachos.

Christmas Morning: Welcome Christmas – Red Red Meat / Change of Heart – The Vaccines
Just once, I’d like to experience a miracle that prompts me to madly run through the streets screaming “Merry Christmas” or the like. The closest I’ve come was when I mixed Nyquil and a fifth of Old Crow and thought I was being chased by terrifying clowns. They turned out to be just terrifying juggalos.

The Prize Turkey Feast: Home Cookin’ – The Band
I killed the prize Turkey sandwich the other day. Seriously, won it out of a convenience store claw machine. I must say the mayo had an interesting taste profile.

“God Bless Us, Every One!”: Good Good Day – Nick Cave
Except for you, jerk. (You know who you are)

Fire and Ice (The Apocalymix)

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Well, the end is nigh again. And according to a pretty sweet (and apparently “based on a true story”) John Cusack action flick I saw on Spike the other day, 12/21/12 is the due date for a mass shuffle off this mortal coil. Mayans said so, dude. I must say that I was, however, a little thrown off when I received my 2013 Mayan calendar in the mail the other day.

Either way, in honor of the upcoming doomsday (and possibly because it just won’t matter in a few days), we’ve decided to do this Tape on Book on a poem. A Tape on Poem, as it were. More specifically, Robert Frost’s lovely ode to end times, Fire and Ice. You know, this one:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

To prepare you good folks for all doomsday eventualities and in light of Bob Frost’s indecisiveness, we’ve created a handful of unique musical accompaniments for our grand finale. So, stock up on bullets, batteries, and twinkies, head down to the bunker, and rock out! Behold the ice cap meltin’, planet X crashin’, giant lizard monster smashin’, LHC black hole inducin’, nuclear holocaustin’, plague spreadin’, four horsemen ridin’ APOCALYMIXES!

Apocalymix A – If The World Should End In FIRE
If The World Should End in Fire – The Handsome Family
Here’s Your Future – The Thermals
Sabre Dance – Khachaturian
It’s the End of the World As We Know It - R.E.M.
Electric Funeral – Black Sabbath
Fire and Brimstone - Link Wray
The Earth Died Screaming – Tom Waits
Five Years - David Bowie
When the World’s On Fire – The Carter Family
Eve of Destruction – Johnny Thunders
Mushroom Clouds – Love
In the Year 2525 – Zager and Evans
California Earthquake – Mama Cass Elliott
The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash
John the Revelator – Blind Willie Johnson
Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden
Pink Moon - Nick Drake
Ashes to Ashes – Steve Earle
So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You – Woody Guthrie
Dance of Death – John Fahey

Apocalymix B – If The World Should End In ICE
If the World Should End in Ice – The Handsome Family
Idioteque – Radiohead
Fire and Ice - Robert Frost
The Other Side - Tiny Tim
London Calling – The Clash
World Destruction – Time Zone
1000 Cities Falling - The Sadies
Waiting for the End of the World – Elvis Costello
(I’ll Love You) Till the End of the World – Nick Cave
End Times – Eels
Ice Age – Joy Division
I’ve Just Destroyed the World – Willie Nelson
The Apocalypse Song – St. Vincent
Bad Moon Rising – CCR
Last Snowstorm of the Year – Low
The End of the World - Skeeter Davis
Until the End of the World – U2
Death to Everyone – Bonnie Prince Billy
Doomsday - Elvis Perkins in Dearland
The Hollow Men – Pageant Theatre

And, as a special treat for our last moments together, a bonus mix in my preferred flavor of Judgment Day. Just in case it all ends with a bang and not a whimper:

Apocalymix Z – If the world should end in ZOMBIES
Astro Zombies – The Misfits
I Walked With a Zombie – Roky Erickson and the Aliens
Zombie Jamboree – Harry Belafonte
Big Zombie – The Mekons
Brain – The Action
Zombies – The King Khan and BBQ Show
I Walk on Guilded Splinters – Dr. John
Zombie Dance – The Cramps
The Zombies of Mora-Tau – Jad Fair
Mi Novia es un Zombie – Expulsados
Zombi – The Monotones
Zombie - Fela Kuti

Poster - Seventh Seal

So long! It’s been good to know you.

The Maltese Falcon

This time on Tapes on Books…bourbon, babes, and bullets abound in Dashiell Hammett’s iconic detective novel The Maltese Falcon. Sardonic P.I.’s, foreign creepers, bumbling cops, unhinged henchmen, and slippery seductresses compete for a jewel-encrusted birdy antique. A moody and fast-paced mystery that takes the lid off life and lets you look at the works.

Like a stranger in a fedora down a foggy San Francisco alley…the mix waits for you.

Spade & Archer Private Investigators: Solo Dancer A – Charles Mingus
We’ve always thought The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady would have been great soundtracking a film-noir crime movie. This is, unfortunately, the best it gets.

Sam Spade: Keep a Cool Head – Desmond Dekker
I like my detectives like I like my eggs: On top of a big plate of bacon. Err – I mean hard-boiled.

Archer & Thursby Shot: Killing Moon – Echo and Bunnymen
Nice night for a double murder. Like a quiet Tuesday in Detroit.

Iva Archer: I Wanna Be Adored – The Stone Roses
Nothing like a clingy mistress bugging you to come over the night for some quality time after her husband’s been murdered and you’re the prime suspect. Women.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Femme Fatale – Ty Segall
That girl is poison. If only someone wrote a song that clearly and succinctly expressed that sentiment.

Joel Cairo: Dandy in the Underworld – T. Rex
Two great Joel Cairo mysteries: 1. What is a Levantine? 2. Why the hell won’t my wife let me get a Peter Lorre circa Maltese Falcon tattoo? (Update: Thanks to Wikipedia, Mystery 1 solved. Mystery 2 still looms large.)

The Kid: With A Gun – Steely Dan
If I was a crime boss, all my henchmen would be forced to listen to Steely Dan. Don’t ask me why, it just seems like a good idea to test your thugs’ loyalty and/or jazz-rock sensibilities.

Mr. Gutman: Big Boss Man – Thee Headcoatees  
I don’t know about you, but I prefer my oversized criminal masterminds to be sporting a fez. What gives, Mr. G?

Drugged/Beat Up: A Little Drop of Poison – Tom Waits / Black Eye – Uncle Tupelo
I just hope that the next time I get mickeyed and mugged, I can do it with as much pizzazz and wit as Sam Spade. Dude is stone cold. Me, I’d probably just wet myself.

SFPD: Police on My Back – The Clash
Hammett writes every policeman in his books as if they were rejects from the Keystone Cops: “Hey, what’s that in your hand?  It’s just a water gun? I guess that’s okay. Wait! What was that noise? Oh, you guys just wrestling? Well, be careful then. And you may want to use some club soda to get that ketchup stain off the rug?” Sounds more like Milwaukee cops to me.

The Maltese Falcon: Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen / King of Spain – Galaxie 500
“I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.” I pretty much feel this way about my Alf lunchbox. Somedays, I might feel that way about whatever happens to be in my Alf lunchbox, but please don’t tell my son.

Murdered Ship Captain: Sailor’s Lament – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rough day for the cap’n. Your ship is on fire, you get betrayed by a lady, shot several times, and then you stumble and die. Maybe he should of took that job on the Titanic; or for BP.

Bathroom Strip Search: Underwear – The Magnetic Fields
I agree it is always important to have a compulsory frisking. Of course, Spade didn’t make any of the men go down to their skimpies. Even though Cairo probably would have really loved to.

Electing a Fall Guy: The Fall Guy – The Cautions
“Um, can’t we at least draw straws or roshambo this?”

The Fake Statue: Bad Cover Version – Pulp
I am surprised the “Made in Taiwan” stamped on the foot didn’t give it away. Probably shouldn’t have used eBay. Hey, wait a minute . . . that’s not even a falcon. Were we even ever looking for a Maltese Vulcan?

The Plan/The Set-Up: The Proposition – The Budos Band  
I love it when a plan comes together. If only someone would create a TV show and use that as a catchline. I am full of these great ideas today!

Spade turns in O’Shaughnessy: Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus – Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
My favorite part of TMF is Spade’s goodbye to Brigid as he is turning her in: “Well Toots, if you get out in 20 years, we can bang then. Or if they fry you, I’ll remember the good times we banged”.

Back to the Business/ The End: Detective Instinct – The Fall
In the end, you kind of get the feeling that the whole thing was just playtime for a Spade. Take the case for a laugh and few bucks.  He figured everything out in first few pages of the book. He’s like Columbo, but with both eyes.

Slaughterhouse-Five

Today, we skip through time into Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s absurdist anti-war sci-fi satire Slaughterhouse-Five. One man’s fatalistic journey back and forth from alien zoos, mind-numbing suburbia, carpet-bombed city remains, traumatic swimming lessons, and pre-determined futures. An audio mix in glorious non-linear!

Listen to the SH5 mix here, because you already have listened to it and you always will.

“All this happened, more or less.”:
Telstar – The Tornadoes / As We Go Up, We Go Down – Guided by Voices
KVj always played such a great unreliable narrator because he could seamlessly be funny, horrifying, and thought-provoking at the same time. I have trouble having any one idiosyncrasy (well, other than sleepy or boring) at any given time.

Billy Pilgrim: Once in A Lifetime – Talking Heads / Do It All Over Again – Spiritualized
Debate time: Broken soldier’s PTSD-garbled mind, misunderstood time-travelling abductee’s cautionary tale, or a parabolic representation of a desperate longing for a new model to explain away human tragedies. Any way you slice it, you gotta love that jacket.

Roland Weary: Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
Jingoistic! Gosh, I love being able to use that word.

Unstuck in Time: Trail of Time – The Knitters
Time travel is so much more efficient sans Delorean. Unfortunately, it’s also considerably less handsome without Michael J Fox.

The Alien Zoo: In a Jar – Dinosaur Jr
Shake ‘em and see if they fight! With humans, it’s usually that easy.

Tralfamadorians: Little Hands – “Skip” Spence
I can’t believe aliens that are essentially hands with plunger bottoms are the things that kill the universe. I was sure it was going to be the Republicans.

Montana Wildhack: Another Girl, Another Planet – Only Ones
Sure, if I do happen to get abducted by aliens I’d love to have naked model-actress cellmate. However, I’d probably just end up with a boilerplate probing.

Edgar Derby: Slow Death – The Flamin’ Groovies
I suppose we all know we are going to die, but not quite with the same intimacy and inevitability as the lovable English teacher’s foretold demise. He always makes me think twice when I contemplating looting me up a teapot.

Suburban Life: Everybody’s Happy Nowadays – The Buzzcocks
Wars, abductions, imprisonment, bombings, assassination, and the only time Pilgrim ever seemed miserable as when he was a successful doctor and family man.

Kilgore Trout: Books About UFOs – Hüsker Dü
My absolute favorite part of SH5 is the vignettes describing Trout’s novels (a moneytree fertilized by human murder, the robot with bad breath, the time-traveller measuring Jesus’ height). Heck, Vonnegut’s alter-ego’s ideas for made-up novels are better than most science fiction.

Paul Lazzaro: Sweet Revenge – John Prine
Cotton candy is probably the sweetest thing. Revenge is a close second though.

Lasergun Assassination: My Days are Numbered – Close Lobsters
Omniscient knowledge of the exact moment of death isn’t so bad when you know you death is a pleasant purple with a soft hum (and then you can go back to some more satisfying life event). I still would probably prefer not to get lasered in the head. Hey, you remember that X-Files with Peter Boyle where he could tell you how you’ll die? That was a great episode.

Unstuck in Time: Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
Déjà vu all over again.

Schlachthof-funf: Underneath the Bunker – REM
The slaughterhouse is the safest place to be? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before say the cows.

Abducted for the first time again: U.F.O. – Jim Sullivan
I feel its only appropriate to include an artist that was actually abducted by a UFO. Hopefully, he is doing as well as Pilgrim in the whole forcible mating department.

Dresden: Its Hard to Believe – Glenda Collins
We always like to think of ourselves as the good guys, but, um, yeah.

The Greatest Moment: Good Feeling – Violent Femmes
Riding a cart around firebombed city might not be my selection for the moment to relive over and over. Mine would probably be my chicken wing eating contest championship 2003. Coincidentally, the moment I would least like to relive is about an hour after my aforementioned greatest moment.

“So it goes.”: So It Goes – Nick Lowe
After every time I read this book and get this three word mantra “ohrwurming” in my head, I can’t tell if Vonnegut is laughing at or crying about the human capacity to accept and dismiss the myriad of senseless horrors. Probably both.

“Poo-tee-weet?”: To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine
I guess a little bird song is probably about the most intelligent thing that can be said about war. If only everything was beautiful and nothing hurt…

The Shining

This time on Tapes on Books, Stephen King’s harrowing horror classic, The Shining. A nearly unhinged writer takes his telepathetic son to the worst place on earth for nearly unhinged writers and telepathetic children, a remote haunted mountain resort with a proud and long-standing tradition of slaughter. Gruesome antics ensue.

Listen to the mix with us, Danny. Forever. And Ever. And Ever.

The Mountains: Opening with Sighs – Goblin / Lost Something In the Hills- Sibylle Baier

Jack Torrance: King Volcano – Bauhaus
I’m no shrink, but I might have a few second thoughts about an unstable, violent, recovering alcoholic struggling writer surviving alone with his family for months. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. The evil hotel encouraging you to murder your family is the proverbial icing on the crazy cake. Or is that the proverbial blood gushing out the elevator?

The Shining/Danny Torrance: Do I Have Power – Timber Timbre
This kid is freaky not because his telepathic abilities, but because he thinks like a 35 year old man (I still wasn’t doing that at 40). Oh, and his non-invisible invisible friend who gets a kick out of showing him grisly visions. That too.

The Overlook: Hotel – Dirty Beaches / Heartbreak Hotel – John Cale
At some point in the mid nineties, I went up to this place in the middle of the night, drunk, obviously, and was able to sneak around all over. Though I never came across any twins or abandoned Big Wheels, it was the second scariest hotel I’ve ever been in. Of course, the first one was scary mostly due to the dead hobo stench and clown paintings.

The Wasps: Page 1 – Fantomas
“Gee, Dad, thanks for the wasps’ nest. They’re all dead, right?”

The Topiary Animals: Fatal Flower Garden – Nelstone’s Hawaiians
Sentient angry hedge animals is number seven on my all-time terrifying things list. Right above talking to girls and right below a dentist riding a horse-sized hairless cat.

Delbert Grady: This House is Haunted – Alice Cooper
I am not sure I’d take parenting advice for the haint groundskeeper who recently axed down his family, but I have to admit Delbert is pretty darned charming. It’s like he has the personality of Casper, but the self control of Slimer from Ghostbusters

The Ballroom and the Bartender: A Good Man is Hard to Find – Bill Haid & His Cubs
This might be the sweetest bartending gig of all time, aside from the terrible tips, I assume.

Jack’s Typewriter: Page 2 – Fantomas
Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Type. Kill. Bedtime.

Snowed In: Just You and I – Angelo Badalamenti / Coldest Night of the Year – Vashti Bunyan
The disheartening isolation consistent in this book is enough to make anyone rethink your vacation plans at that quaint cabin. This is, unless, you do happen to be some sort of crazed psycho-killer. If only Wendy had been able to live tweet these events for us.

Room 217: My Body’s a Zombie for You – Dead Man’s Bones
In the edition of The Shining that I have this room makes its first appearance on page 217. Eek, extra creepy! I’m pretty sure my wife would venture into 217 if it was Ryan Gosling’s rotting corpse. Ah, what a meme that would make.

“Redrum”: Redrum – Tom Waits
I have actually drank red rum once that caused me speak backwards. Now, that was scary.

The Grady Twins: Thank Heaven for Little Girls – Ed McMahon
Yeah, yeah, I know that the twins weren’t in the book as such. But the creepiness of Kubrick’s iconic image can only be sonically matched by Ed McMahon terrifyingly singing about children. Sleep with the lights on, kids.

The Dogman: Page 6 – Fantomas
“I’m going to eat you, little boy.” (shiver)

Dick Hallorann: Help Is On Its Way – The Centimeters
Respect to Dick for using his power for good. If I had the “shining”, I’d probably just order a bunch of pizzas from bed, save up my text messages, and prank shine other psychics.

Wendy Torrance: It’s Over – Roy Orbison / It’s Useless to Struggle – The Gothic Archies
Ah, the deafening damsel in distress…makes you almost root for Jack. Sorry to go back to the movie, but is Shelley Duvall attractive? I can never tell. And, how great would the movie version be had Robert Altman directed it, using the same cast he used for Popeye? That would have made for the best super scary shitty musical ever!

Jack Cracks: Paranoia – Hawkwind / I Broke Up – Xiu Xiu
SNAP. CRACKLE. POP.

The Chase and The Roque Mallet: Jangling Jack – Nick Cave
The roque mallet is an underutilized murder weapon, in my opinion. Adds a bit of distinction, class, and sportsmanship to the whole bashing brains out bit.

Boiler Explodes/Jack Burns: Wildfire – Langley School Music Project
I think we’ve all been there when we let our daily chores go by the wayside in times of emotional distress and family strife. But, you know, probably not quite this bad. Stephen King’s important public service reminder to make sure you check your pilot light before you go completely nutso.

Escape/The End: In Heaven (Everything is Fine) – Lady in the Radiator
Well, as that one guy said, we all shine on…

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