Xappy Xanukah! ♪♫♪♬

I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now).  My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian.  Both my maternal grandparents—with whom I spent a lot of time growing up—were practicing Christians. Far from shockingly, my own marriage is mixed (my wife was raised Catholic, our kids are Jews who end up participating in a lot of Xtian traditions).  Interfaith families are really common now, but were much less so when I was young.

As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. There weren’t many songs for Jewish kids, but there were some; there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re sort of a nation that always wants everyone to be one thing or another thing—black or white, nerd or jock, Jew or Gentile, girl or boy—and doesn’t have much patience for things that are mixed and ambiguous and a lil-o’-both.  I was in my 20s, and in a Women’s Studies class, before I learned what the hell “intersectionality” was, and my identity began to make any sense to me.

This year—for the third year running—my local Jewish Community Center is collecting donations of Christmas presents, to be given to the Syrian refugees relocated here.

On the one hand, that sounds almost too perfectly absurd: Jews giving Muslims Christmas presents.  On the other, it feels like basically the most perfect possible introduction to America.🕎🎄☪🇺🇸

Anyway, there weren’t many mixed kids like me when I was growing up—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what I saw and felt and loved about wintertime.

So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.

Enjoy!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!” #gobblegobblegobble

(Yeah, I repost this every year, because I love this gag, and because watching this on TV—and rehashing it with my mom and sisters each year—is one of my fondest childhood holiday memories.)

THANKSGIVING TURKEY GIVEAWAY! (WKRP in Cincinnati) from Tony DeSanto on Vimeo.

This is, in my humble, a damn-near perfect gag—which is saying something, because I find single-camera laugh-track situation comedies almost entirely unbearable to watch.

I hope your day is good and sweet.  Gobblegobble!

(If you wanna read more of my thoughts on this specific gag and what it can teach writers, you can do so here.)

Listen: You Aren’t Hearing a Martian Sunrise, but Please Listen to this “Martian Sunrise”

I sorta love things like this, not because it’s the “sound of a Martian sunrise”—because it isn’t. It’s a composition humans made, using an express (and consciously expressed) scheme that’s inspired by a Martian sunrise.

No, I love this art because it sounds pretty and pleases and soothes me, and I love projects like this because artists always and forever operate based on formulae—they just usually aren’t able (or willing) to consciously and explicitly formulate those formula.  I like it when we engage with our formulae outright.

Also, I really like Mars.  Our relationship with that planet has changed substantially since I was a boy, and that always fills my heart with Hope.

There is Such a Pure Joy of Expression in Richie Jackson’s Skating

You don’t have to love—or like, or even give shit one—about skating to enjoy watching Richie Jackson skate.  You don’t need to know a lexicon of jargon to appreciate it, because most of what he does has no formal name, since it’s arisen from the immediate conditions and his feelings about them.

I guess I maybe dig Richie Jackson so much because he’s kept skateboarding—a thing that, since I was a kid, has been transformed into a sport and a career—as an expressive art form.

“I for sure had a vision, but how close to it I’ve gotten, I don’t know [because] I’ve dissolved it by making it a reality, and it’s different. [laughs] The original vision has ceased to be.  I’ve replaced it with a bunch of pixels.”

Amen, brother. Amen.

Continue reading “There is Such a Pure Joy of Expression in Richie Jackson’s Skating”

Hamish Trolove’s Hobopunk Lap Steel Guitar (with Active Electronics!)

I love hearing from folks who read my DIY books, because they are always up to something that I never imagined, and yet love on first sight.  Case in point:

Last December I got an email from Hamish Trolove, a Junkyard Jam Band reader who mentioned he was building his own riff on a Shane Speal 2×4 lap steel with a build-in Mud-n-Sizzle pre-amp (project 12 in Junkyard Jam Band) and dual LFO box (translation: It’s a junkyard lap steel electric guitar with a built in pre-amp—so things might get loud—and an automated modulator, allowing him to dial in anything from a little honky-tonk tremelo shimmer to a big pulsing metal wobble).

As Hamish explained:

The instrument uses waste cargo palette wood, and TIG welding wire to mark the “fret” spacings. I find that old palettes often have extraordinarily hard wood with some amazing colours when planed down, sanded and varnished. Hopefully by the end of the project I’ll have something that looks fairly tidy-ish in a hobo/steampunky kind of way.

“Fairly tidy-ish” is such an understantement.  Check this thing out:

Lap_Steel_Paraphenalia2

Lap_Steel_Head Lap_Steel_Tail

Detail of the pre-amp Hamish installed in his guitar
Detail of the pre-amp Hamish installed in his guitar
Dual_LFO
Front panel of Hamish’s Dual LFO box
Dual_LFO_Undercovers
Interior of Hamish’s Dual LFO

Oh daaaaaaamn! I love everything about this!  He also included a schematic of his expansion of my old Universal LFO (Junkyard Jam Band project 13), for folks interested in doing something similar:

Hamish Trolove Dual_LFO_Circuit-AsBuilt
Hamish Trolove’s Dual LFO

Hamish also put me on to Frescobaldi, a powerful, pretty, and free sheet music text editor that looks amazing. (For every 100 of you who are wondering why you’d ever need such a thing, there is one musical geek who is gonna click that link and weep with joy.  Trust me, for I have been that very geek.)

Incidentally, while you’re clicking links, don’t miss Hamish’s Baddest Mountain Dulcimer Ever.