The Dollop Podcast

One of my favorite history courses back in school was a world history advanced course taught by a man with a darkish sense of humor and more than a little appreciation for absurdity. I remember particularly the day when, discussing the Roman empire, we covered Caligula and his relationship with his favorite horse. It was a funny day one of many I recall in that class.

I find a lot of that same spirit listening to The Dollop Podcast. Each episode covers a single topic–mainly historical as of late although that was more flexible in the beginning. What qualifies as ‘historical’ in this context could vary a little as well. For instance all four of the main episodes (As opposed to the fifteen to twenty minute “smallop” episodes that tell stories not long enough for a full episode.) in December covered a facet of the history of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The format of the show is very loose and conversational. Dave Anthony tells his friend, and fellow stand up comic, Gareth (Gary?) Reynolds a story from the weird annals of American history. The joy in the exchanges comes from Mr. Anthony’s knowledge of storytelling and his sense of how to build Mr. Reynold’s unbelieving “You can’t make this shit up!” reactions to a pitch over the course of an hour.

Dave and Gary (Gareth?)
Dave and Gary (Gareth?)

The episode that exemplifies this to me is the one that covers the life of Jack Parsons. Mr. Parsons was central to the formation of the JPL and thereby to the space program and modern rocketry. He was also an Occultist, an early follower of L. Ron Hubbard, and he was truly and wonderfully strange.

Jack Parsons--science hero, weirdo.
Jack Parsons–science hero, weirdo.

Over the course of the episode Anthony keeps upping the ante on the weird and Reynolds reacts with both clever remarks (he is a very fast comedian) and by being almost wordlessly overwhelmed by the sheer oddity on display. Regular listeners have leaned to enjoy the moment in each episode where Gareth’s mind gives up and he loudly and profanely demands to know what is going on.

The profanity might be too much for some–as I’ve said before I myself enjoy a well used swear. These men are both working stand-up comics, be assured they earn their explicit label. If you enjoy the historical stories that tend to the more odd and under reported check them out.

The episode about Rube Waddell is an excellent place to start.

The Dollop is available from itunes and libsyn.


Frets Playlist 1.10.15

Billy Johnson and the Dirty Scrubs “Girl Next to Me” from “Shine a Lil’ Light”
Dominion Bluegrass Boys “Roll On Pretty River” from “Dominion Bluegrass Boys”
Pert Near Sandstone “Stagger Lee” from “The Hardest Part of Leaving”
Ricky Skaggs “New Jerusalem” from “Music to My Ears”
The Middle Spunk Creek Boys “Coal Tattoo” from “I’m With The Band”
Kevin Crawford “The High Road to Glin/The Hard Road to Travel/Paddy Fahey’s” from “In Good Company”
Battlefield Band “Ely Parker/Miss Martin’s Wedding/The Primrose Lassies/Mr Galloway Goes to Washington” from “The Road of Tears”
The Dang-It Bobbys “Lazy Loons” from “Something In The Air”
Ben Bullington “Sage After Rain” from “Lazy Moon”
Mark Allen Berube “Friend Me Lately” from “Sticky”
The Be Good Tanyas “Waiting Around to Die” from “Chinatown”
Monica Heldal “Boy from the North” from “Boy From The North”
Chuck Suchy “Country High and Plain” from “Dakota Breezes”
Lucinda Williams “Prove My Love” from “Sweet Old World”
Paul Imholte “Will Scherbert” from “Halfway to Canada”
David Hawkins “Mexican Home” from “Everything That Brought You Here”
Jenn Rawling & Basho Parks “Wallflowerness” from “Take The Air”
Robin & Linda Williams “So Long, See You Tomorrow” from “In the company of strangers”
John Hartford “I Wonder Where You are Tonight” from “Gum Tree Canoe”
Valerie Smith and Becky Buller “Hand of Help” from “Here’s A Little Song…”
The Cluster Pluckers “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” from “Just Pluck It”
Dar Williams “Calling the Moon” from “the Green World”
The Greencards “Rivertown” from “Fascination”
Casey Neill Trio “Riffraff” from “Portland West”
Tarras “Oakey Strike Evictions” from “Rising”
Anam “Westlin’ Winds” from “Riptide”
The Cottars “Pat Works On the Railway” from “Forerunner”
Pieta Brown “Hey Joey” from “Shimmer”
Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings “The Seagull (Fiskmas) / The Bad Day” from “Generation Nation”
Andrew Calhoun “No Secret Castle” from “Phoenix Envy”
George Mann “Trickle On Down The Mountain” from “Portraits”
Gillian Welch “Miner’s Refrain” from “Hell Among the Yearlings”
Ralph Stanley “Worried Man Blues” from “A Distant Land To Roam”
Mike Seeger “Last Night When My Willie Came Home” from “Southern Banjo Sounds”
Doug Adamz “A Time for Peace” from “National Steel”
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott “Riding Down Canyon” from “Kerouac’s Last Dream”
Greg Brown “I Believe I’ll Go Back Home” from “Honey In the Lion’s Head”
Oh My Darling “Kiss and Tell” from “Sweet Nostalgia”
Slaid Cleaves “Don’t Tell Me” from “No Angel Knows”
Norman Blake and Peter Ostroushko “Blake’s Railroad Blues” from “Meeting On Southern Soil”
Liz Carroll “The Old Maid of Galway / Lizzy In the Lowground” from “Lost In the Loop”
Connie Dover “Miss Lillian Williams” from “If Ever I Return”
The Tannahill Weavers “Hieland Harry” from “Leaving St. Kilda”
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer “September Sea” from “Little Blue Egg”
Robyn Landis “Black Train” from “Waterproof”
Bill Staines “Old City Jail” from “October’s Hill”
Townes Van Zandt “Tecumseh Valley” from “Rear View Mirror”
Nick Bayard “Sad and Blue” from “Memento”
Ryan Bingham “Too Deep to Fill ” from “Tomorrowland”
Emmylou Harris “Big Black Dog” from “Hard Bargain”
The Squirrel Hillbillies “Bless You Man” from “Goody Shoes”
Lucy Kaplansky “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding” from “Flesh and Bone”
Paul Siebel “The Ballad of Honest Sam” from “Paul Siebel”
Clyde Bowling “Pay Day on Friday, Broke on Monday Blues” from “Life in Butcher Hollow, KY”
Merle Haggard “Wouldn’t That Be Something” from “The Bluegrass Sessions”
Cadillac Sky “Wish I Could Say I Was Drinking” from “Blind Man Walking”
Woody Guthrie “Jesse James” from “This Land Is Your Land”
Bobby Hicks “Whiskey Before Breakfast” from “Fiddle Patch”
John Gorka “Bright Side of Down” from “Bright Side of Down”
Christine Lavin “Women Walking Wearing Wings” from “If You’re Drunk You Cannot Buy A Puppy”
Victoria Vox “Mon Cheri” from “Exact Change”
Bernie King & The Guilty Pleasures “Drinking Since Sunday” from “Pretty Little Gal”
Asylum Street Spankers “TV Party” from “What? And Give Up Show Biz?”

101 Letter

In order to give my 2015 blogging efforts some structure I am participating in WordPress’ Blogging 101seminar. This is my assignment for today.

Dear Reader,

It feels so odd to be addressing you directly because I always try to write like I am telling a story–keep it sort of conversational. The fact that it feels out of place is probably a pretty good indication that it is an idea that can do with some thinking about.

What do I hope you are taking away from this blog?

I suppose my first external purpose (my internal purpose starts with assisting memory retention) is to entertain–I am by my nature a person who likes putting on a show. I love the persona of the raconteur and I can listen to somebody telling tales for a long long time.

So, I hope you like reading my writing. At least enough to have you check in from time to time to see what I am up to.

Something else I am hoping to do is build a habit of writing. I have been participating in NaNoWriMo for a few years now and I have not yet made it to the fifty-thousand word finish line. In fact, this year I didn’t even participate at all because I was in rehearsal for a musical I was directing during November. I came closest a couple of years ago–who knows–I may get a wild hair and start putting up sections of that story here from time to time.

I hope this finds you doing well. Thanks for reading–


*Edited to fix the error regarding NaNoWrimo*

GB: Some Thoughts on Workplace Solidarity

My day job can be a little bit stressful at times.

I’ve been involved in Education one way or another for going on ten years now. First at a rural public school as a classroom paraprofessional and for the last three school years I have been working as a para in a self-contained special education classroom. It is a part of a school attached to a residential treatment facility that works with at-risk students.

All of the young people I come in contact with have considerable emotional and behavioral difficulties to go along with any educational deficits they might have. Suffice it to say that the clientele I work with in the classroom can, from time to time, make the workday a little long.

As is often the case in these sorts of situations the people who I work with have developed a specific skill set when it comes to dealing the more extreme forms of student behavior. I think the most valuable thing I have picked up is the idea that all behavior is language.

It seems like a pretty obvious idea–still when a student looks at you and calls you some multi-hyphenate curse name that you are fairly certain people have been jailed for using– it can be useful to remember that what they are mad at most often has very little to do with you.

The more creative the invective the more likely it will make its way into the stories we tell. On one memorable occasion I was called a “Dolphin-lookin’ Motherfucker” and I am still trying to work out exactly what that means.

Earlier this year one of our students came up with one for the books. In response to a directive given by one our behavior specialists (Our school has a dedicated re-focus room to manage behaviors and get students back to class.) the student replied; “I don’t have to. Go it, bitch?”.

That afternoon during lunch we were talking through the ups and downs of the day (another handy stress relief as there is usually a lot of laughter) when the story of; “Got it, bitch?” was told. Over the next few weeks “Got it, bitch?” was shortened to “GB” and it was the most common response to any question/comment or e-mail exchange.

We need to make some more copies of the test forms, GB?

Don’t forget about the fire drill at ten, GB?

There is a pot-luck scheduled for our next staff development day. It’s your turn to bring some thing to share, GB?

Not exactly Emily Post. On the other hand ours isn’t a regular nine to five job in education either.  I enjoy my co-workers and appreciate the fact that we do go out of our way to look out for each other. It makes  the sadness and challenges faced by these young people, challenges that can feel insurmountable, seem a little more manageable.


Where or When

It seems we’ve stood and talked like this before/We looked at each other in the same way then/But I can’t remember where or when. Where or When by Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart

It’s damned frustrating living in this head sometimes. A handful of times a month my wife will be awoken by the sound of me stomping around our bedroom picking things up looking under them and huffing away to the next small group of objects.

First confession. I am kind of messy.

Not Pig-pen messy. Nothing’s growing on me or my surroundings but my space tends to be chaotic and cluttered. I used to get into arguments with my mother about the state of my room quite frequently. My argument always came down to: clearly the room WANTS to be in this state otherwise why would it keep putting itself back in this configuration?

In there…somewhere.

Yeah, my mom never bought it either. I guess you could say I was arguing in favor of some kind of messy state of grace. The thing is usually I know where things are–at least kinda in a general It’s over there-ish kinda “horseshoes and hand grenades” style of figuring.

Unless it happens to be early.

Or I am running late.

What do you think is your greatest character flaw? I’m not talking about the thing where you say “I’m too focused on quality!” in a job interview.  I mean the one that maybe your spouse knows about, maybe your clergy, or your drinking buddies maybe.  When I can’t find my (insert object here–let’s say keys) in the morning I become unhinged.


Second confession. I am not a very patient person at least I’m not very patient where I’m concerend.

Have you ever seen a TV show where a character is so distressed that they hit themselves on the head?

I have done that in a morning panic-attack state–hard enough to give myself a headache. Solves exactly none of my problems and gives me a pain in me gulliver to boot.  So why?

The voice that plays in my head when I am looking everywhere (for a thing I just had) suggests to me that all I ever was or will be can be encapsulated into that moment. I will never be anything more than this aggrieved little primate wandering about his living room driven to distraction by his inability to keep track of his shit.

It isn’t true but that voice is pretty damned convincing when I’m on the verge of tears.

Mind Palace!!
Mind Palace!!

So, I do my best to manage my brain’s particular wiring. I try to put things in a spot where I will be able to find them–if not in the same space at least someplace that makes sense. As I get older I have been getting better at using a spot for one thing.  I keep all of my spare change in my Bat Man piggy bank and 78-85 percent of the time my keys end up where they belong.

Next time I will hopefully remember to cut myself a little bit of slack when my brain misfires.

Begin Again

I always have a hard time managing my expectations at this time of the year.

baby-new-year-2015The 2015 baby is still getting used to his new digs and in my head I have already been turning over goals/resolutions/hopes/fears. Fears. Man I tell ya–I struggle with that one. I can look at almost any scenario and pull out the worst case outcome for you. If you told me I just won a bunch of money I would instantly start figuring out my new tax situation–I have one hell of a hard time living in the now.

Medicine has helped in the past year with not biting myself in the small of the back and I have made a concentrated effort to live in the present. Looking for a sensible way to set attainable goals without setting myself up for failure seems like a good next step. I have a tendency to work my way through a certain cycle when it comes to taking on new things.

So, the cycle that my brain usually creates for me works like this: New year–I make the goals and they are grandiose and abstract. My worry troll immediately begins to rearrange the deck chairs on my mental Titanic. The goals seem further away the longer I go without acting on them, at this point I begin to plan for failure. I won’t admit this mental resignation to myself until I have beat myself up emotionally for a little bit also because the reality of the situation never aligns with my grandiose goals it becomes easier to let the plan go.

My worry troll got a computer for Christmas. Now he's just emailing me discouraging messages.
My worry troll got a computer for Christmas. Now he’s just emailing me discouraging messages.

This is oddly comforting believe it or not. If something stays in my brain, not only do I never have to let go of the ideal, but I never have to risk falling on my face in front anybody else.  The fairly obvious down side is that nothing ever gets done and the process is a little emotionally toxic.

You are reading the result of one of my goals for the year. There is a decent chance that the person I was would have given up on this by now. I have a very Minnesotan streak of “Who cares what YOU think, anyway?” running through me and to tell you the truth I still feel like I don’t have anything to say sometimes.

I’m not telling you all of this to be a downer–I want to change some things that’s all. To that end I needed to start off with a appraisal of what has been keeping me from starting on some of these things that have been rattling around in my head.

I worry. I procrastinate. I resign myself to disappointment because it’s easier.

Thing is–this is another new year the calendar has rolled over and I get to start again.

Frets Playlist 1.3.15

Saturday Mornings from 6AM to 11AM CST I'm gonna folk-up your life.
Saturday Mornings from 6AM to 11AM CST I’m gonna folk-up your life.

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I host a radio show on Saturday mornings here in Minnesota. It is called Frets and I have been hosting for a little over a year now–this is my second stint at KVSC having hosted some shows there back in the late nineties.

So, as a way of keeping track of what I’m playing and to get the info out to anyone out there who is interested I will be posting my playlists as a part of this blog.

This was my first show in 2015 and I feel like I got a lot of good feedback from people.

The playlist:

Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum “Millionaire” from “The Oak and the Laurel”
Lonesome Standard Time “Whistlestop Willie” from “Mighty Lonesome”
Brownie Ford “Frankie and Johnny” from “Stories from Mountains, Swamps & Honky Tonks”
The Granary Girls “Banks of the Ohio” from “Sowing Seeds”
David Lewis “Northern Sky” from “For Now”
Charlie Parr “Mahtowa Stomp” from “The 10th Annual Porcupine Mountains Music Festival”
Ray Wylie Hubbard “The Lovers in Your Dreams” from “Crusades of the Restless Knights”
Peter Rowan & Tony Rice “Tin Roof Shack” from “You Were There for Me”
Tim Roggenkamp “Home Town” from “Northern Lights”
David Bromberg “It’s Just a Matter of Time (feat. Linda Ronstadt)” from “Use Me”
Dakota Dave Hull “Right Or Wrong & There’ll Be Some Changes Made” from “New Shirt”
Tom Paxton “Yuppies in the Sky” from “The Greenwich Village Folk Festival 1989-1990”
Morgan Le Fay “John Come Sell Your Fiddle” from “Up She Flew”
Gaelic Storm “Beggarman” from “Special Reserve”
Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies “Tom Tom” from “Honesty Box”
Dougie Maclean “Ae Fond Kiss” from “Indigenous”
Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys “No Letter In The Mail” from “The Roots Of Americana Music”
Monroe Crossing “Just Because of You” from “The Green Mossy Ground”
Lynwood Lunsford and the Misty Valley Boys “Winds of Pittsburgh” from “A Portrait of the Blues”
Lucy Kaplansky “My Name Is Joe” from “The Tide”
Scott Nygaard “Meadville” from “No Hurry”
Carrie Elkin & Danny Schmidt “Girl in the Woods” from “For Keeps”
Greg Brown “The Poet Game” from “In the Hills of California”
Fred Eaglesmith “Cold War” from “Falling Stars and Broken Hearts”
Anne Hills & Cindy Mangsen “Wolves A’ Howlin'” from “Never Grow Old”
John Hartford “On The Road” from “Morning Bugle”
Emmylou Harris “Calling My Children Home (Live At the Ryman)” from “At the Ryman”
Bernie King & The Guilty Pleasures “Jesus Can You Hear Me?” from “Pretty Little Gal”
Pete Seeger “John Hardy” from “The Essential Pete Seeger”
Burl Ives “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” from “American Folk Collection”
Leadbelly “I’m On My Last Go-Round” from “Alabama Bound”
Woody Guthrie “Talking Hard Work” from “This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Volume One”
Si Kahn “Truck Driving Woman” from “New Wood”
Martha Schuyler Thompson “Thirst For Life” from “Road Kill”
Larry Long “One Year After” from “Troubadour”
Celtic Fiddle Festival “Mrs. Kenny’s / Gowden Locks / Sweeney’s Buttermilk / I Haven’t Heard from Johnny Yet”  from “ENCORE”
Martin Carthy “Willie’s Lady” from “Song of The Green Linnet”
Lee Murdock “Diana of the Dunelands” from “What About the Water”
Akira Satake “A Taste of Loomi” from “Cooler Heads Prevail”
Utah Phillips “Yuba City” from “The Telling Takes Me Home”
Gillian Welch “The Devil Had a Hold of Me” from “Hell Among the Yearlings”
Otis Taylor “It’s Done Happened Again” from “Double V”
Chuck Brodsky “Dangerous Times” from “Two Sets”
Nanci Griffith “It’s Just Another Morning Here” from “Late Night Grande Hotel”
John Prine “Loose Talk” from “In Spite of Ourselves”
Michael McGoldrick and John McSherry “Farewell to Connaught” from “At First Light”
June Tabor “The Water Is Wide / St. Agnes / Jeannie and Jamie” from “A Quiet Eye”
Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, & Edgar Meyer “Monkey Bay” from “Skip, Hop, & Wobble”
The Moss Piglets “Steamboat Whistle” from “MP III”
The Gibson Brothers “Any Man In His Right Mind” from “long way back home”
The Chad Mitchell Trio “Can’t Help Wonder Where I’m Bound” from “Mighty Day”
Meg Hutchinson “Seeing Stars” from “Come Up Full”
The Flatlanders “One Road More” from “More A Legend than A Band”
Heather Mcleod “True Fortune” from “funny things”
The Woodys “Circle of Angels” from “The Woodys”
Freyda & Acoustic AttaTude “Potter’s Wheel” from “Midnight At Cabell Hall”
Dry Branch Fire Squad “Testosterone Poisoning” from “Live! At Last”
Dry Branch Fire Squad “Midnight on the Stormy Deep”                                                                                    Big Country Bluegrass “On My Mind” from “My Old Virginia Home”

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