Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Feelin' like Christmas...

Hello all!  Yawn, stretch, jingle, jingle, jingle...  it's starting to feel just a tad like Christmas.  There's not really a nip in the air yet, but there's a Fall-like feel here in Kansas City today, and it is of course officially Autumn now (why do we have two name for this season, but only one for the rest?  Ever wonder that?) so around my place Fall means that we start listening to some Christmas tunes, sorting through the new/old records and CDs, and planning the annual Christmas comp.  I know, I know, many of my collector friends have been planning their comp for months already.  I always have a running list and jot potential songs to it from time to time, but the real planning doesn't start until Octoberish each year.  Just my M.O.



So, I'm encountering a new phenomenon here recently, one that's quite welcome.  A few days ago, and old buddy pulled up at my house to pick me up to go to a Wilco concert, and he came bearing a sackful of old Christmas records he got from his mother.  Quite a nice selection, too.  Some may be shared out here later in the season.  Then, the next day, I traveled to my sister's place down in Tennessee, and upon arrival she had a stack of old Christmas records for me, finds from estate sales.  What a thing - people giving me stacks of Christmas records!  I guess all that incessant posting on Facebook about Christmas music is paying off :-)  Anyway, it's a cool thing.  Add in my Omaha daughter scouting the used record haunts up there looking for Christmas records and my Kansas City kids letting me know about albums they've spotted, and I have quite a network going.  Maybe it'll turn into inventory for that Christmas music store I'll open up when I retire.  Won't make a dime in profit but the in-store music will be great!



Well, stay tuned here folks.  The blog is warming up for another season.  I have some artist interviews already lined up, and will be talking up some new album releases, including (I hope) one from a fantastic local band.  Plus, all the usual stuff you find here at Merry and Bright.  It's Beginning To Look a Little Like Christmas! 


I decided to include a few album pics too, just to jolly up the place a bit.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse!

My house in Kansas City was within the path of totality ("totality" - the Word of the Year 2017), so I got to enjoy the event from my deck.  Here are a couple pictures, taken with my iPhone, of the eclipse during totality.  The pics aren't great, but do show the light-ringed black ball in the sky.  I was trying to take the pics quickly and then just enjoy the view for as long as it lasted.  Anyway, here's the view of the great eclipse of 2017 from my backyard!



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Just Some Seasonal Pictures

I felt like updating the blog with some seasonal pictures, so here they are!






Friday, July 21, 2017

Is it Christmas Music Season yet?

Ha!  What a silly question!  Stop that!  Stop that!  You're being silly!  (please comment, those who pick up that reference).

It's always Christmas Music season in the House of Bingle, though sometimes not with quite the same intensity, as, say, the months of September - January.  And, as it's pushing 100 degrees here in Kansas City today, we're not feeling a bit Wintry.

But, Christmas music season is starting to emerge on the internet, slowly but surely.  Good friend Stubby has semi-un-retired from the Christmas music internet scene, which is reason for rejoicing.

Good friend Ernie has a mega-celebration of Christmas in July going on over at his place, with loads of Christmas songs shared out from non-Christmas albums.  The dude has a superpower of being able to find these treasures.

And, our favorite Facebook group 200 Days of Christmas is already at day 45 this year, posting a Christmas song every day, many of which will be new to you (no matter who you are).  If you haven't followed 200 Days yet, you need to. Right now.  Then come back here, please.

And what about the plans for Merry and Bright this season?  Well, I'm not sure yet.  I know of a couple artist/album features I want to write up.  I'm, hoping to do some more artist interviews this year.  I'll dig into my vinyl and see what I can share out - hope to have at least a few of those again this year.  I guess I see Merry and Bright as a variety platter in the world of Christmas Music blogs - a little of this, a little of that, not all exclusively music related.  We'll see what happens.

So for now - Merry Christmas in July!  I'll be back in a couple months...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Planet Comicon 2017: "Black Buttons" and Magnificent Cowlick Media

For my last post about Planet Comicon 2017, I want to feature "Black Buttons Vol. I", a collection of macabre stories by midwest writers, and Magnificent Cowlick Media, publisher of the anthology.

Mark Groves is the owner, writer, and pretty much doer of everything for Magnificent Cowlick Media. Included in his list of jobs is one-who-mans-the-table at Comicon.  I visited his table and chatted with Mark at length about the books his publishing company has to offer.  Mark is very energetic, friendly, talkative, and is passionately proud of the books he has published.  Mark is a contributing writer to his anthologies, but talks about the other authors' contributions more than his own.  Mark clearly loves this writing and publishing business, and effusively supports his collaborating writers.  



I picked up a copy of "Black Buttons Vol. 1", a collection of stories set in and around the Kansas City area. The setting makes reading it a little more special for area residents, but won't damper the experience for others.  The stories range from just a few pages to longer, near-novella length explorations of darkness.  Some favorites:

"Harry" by J.E. Peterson - you could call this "The Sandlot Gone Evil"
"Pray for Rain" by Mark Groves - a deeply complex tale of second sight set in Kansas City, 
"A Stake in the Heart" by Andrew Rambo - ok, based on the title you can probably guess it's a vampire story, but it's one of the funniest vampire stories I've ever read
"Checkmate" by Mark Groves - superbly paced, excellently executed story of revenge gone wrong
"Bring May Flowers" by Marissa Pelot.  Mark Groves calls this the best story in the book, one of a young girl's internal struggles and resolution.

What about the title, "Black Buttons"?  Well, as Mark explains in the forward, the title comes from a rural Missouri legend about cursed persons or families.  If you were cursed and you left a black button on the road, when someone else picked it up, the curse was transitioned to them. 

Do pick up "Black Buttons" from Magnificent Cowlick Media, but don't pick up any black buttons you see lying on the road....

Magnificent Cowlick Media has also published:
Black Buttons Vol. 2
Route 666: Four on the Floor
HELLZAPALOOZA: The Best Damned Rock Show Ever

Magnificent Cowlick Media on Facebook

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Planet Comicon 2017: TimeBangers

Now, this here is a family-friendly blog.  You know, Christmas Music, and tinsel, and ho ho ho and all that.  So it's with that consideration, and the ever-watching eye of Mrs. Santa, that I'll share with you some info about "TimeBangers" subtitled "One Does Not Simply Walk Into Tudor".

"TimeBangers" is about Beth and Tawny, old college friends now in their early 30's who reunite after several years and begin to reminisce about their particular brand of, ahem, research from their college days.  Jobless, single-parent Beth and her daughter move in with super-rich scientist Tawny, who has invented a time machine.  Beth and Tawny travel into the past to the court of King Henry the Eighth, with intentions to perform some field research experiments on the men of Olde England, including King Henry himself.  But, the best-laid plans, well, you know.....


I visited with the authors, Ivery Kirk and Luna Teague, at their Planet Comicon booth.  Ivery was not there initially, so I spent most of my time chatting with Luna (who also was a contributor to a story anthology I purchased at another booth - more on that in an upcoming post).  Luna is an effervescent bundle of energy, always smiling, and engaging to the fullest with visitors to her booth.  She told me about the book, and we chatted about many other things, including Christmas Music (!).  Of course, TimeBangers was available for sale, so I bought a copy.

I read TimeBangers over the course of just a few days.  It's a marvelously engaging book.  It's quick-paced, fun, a bit naughty here and there (and there, and over there too), and just pure escapist entertainment - you can't take it too seriously as you read it.  Set your Suspension of Disbelief Meter to "Fun" and just enjoy this literary ride.  I'm hoping that TimeBangers Book 2 is published soon.

TimeBangers website
Reve de Vie Publishers website
Amazon link
Interview with Ivery and Luna on The Fussy Librarian:  link
Luna Teague website
Ivery Kirk website

Monday, May 8, 2017

Planet Comicon 2017: Bictori

Bictori is the team of comic artists/authors Taylor Carlson and Stefanie Dao aka Fujiyosky, and "Knocking on the Sky" is their comic book creation.  I met the Bictori team at Planet Comicon and had a very nice chat with them about their comics.  Y'know, that's the best thing about these events - talking to these wonderful artists, learning about their work and their personal artistic journey.  And, supporting them with a purchase or two.  I've bought a few comics and books from the authors and artists at these events, and so far everything has been just splendid!


So, "Knocking on the Sky".  Taylor and Fujiyosky had the first two comics in a planned series of 6, plus (free with purchase of 1 and 2) the standalone pilot issue.  So I picked up all three, added them to my bag o' stuff, and brought them home.  A few days later, I picked them up out of the stack and read them while sitting outside on a lovely Spring Kansas City evening.  And, well, now I'm hooked.  The story involves a group of exquisitely developed characters, each with their own unique idiosyncrasy (or two).  The characters spring to life through the dialogue (a little salty at times), the artwork, and the visual story composition.  There are little arty additions throughout, such as a little, teeny word "point" when one of the characters points.  Persons who are dead are thusly indicated.  There are little visual style changes every now and then that really serve to keep a sense of motion and maintain the reader's high interest.  These are outstanding comics.


And, like I said, I'm hooked on the story.  Book 3 is supposed to be out in the Summer of '17.  I will have to keep up with Team Bictori so I can get books 3-6, whenever they are published.

I'm not going to give away any story or character spoilers.  It's much more fun to experience it all with your first (and subsequent) read(s).  One thing, though - check out this character's right arm:


Yeah...  It's metal...

Keep up with Bictori and "Knocking on the Sky" at the following websites,

http://knockingontheskycomic.com/

http://knockingontheskycomic.tumblr.com/

https://www.behance.net/bictori

Taylor Carlson: https://www.behance.net/tmcarlson

Stefanie Dao: https://www.behance.net/stefaniedao

Fujiyosky on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fujiyosky/