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There Must Be Some Mixtape: Track #13 – "Great Pumpkin" by Mikey Mason

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Yeah, I don't believe in a lot that is spiritually based. But, as a fan of Halloween, I still believe in the Great Pumpkin. 
If Linus were my friend, I would probably be at the pumpkin patch with him regardless of whether I believed or not. Friends gotta stick to together, and Linus has a security blanket that he uses to perform pretty groovy tricks. 

Sure, Linus is a pretty religious kid; he can spout bible verses like no one's business. But Linus also has this weird, darker side where he sits in pumpkin patches while all of the rest of his friends, except for the girl who crushes on him, run about having varied success trick-or-treating. (One kid, I hear, only seems to get rocks in his bag...)

I don't have a lot of time left on Halloween to get this thing knocked out, but I wanted to round out my 2017 mixtape to a perfect 13 songs. I got a little behind here and there; as a result, there were a few songs I selected to be used for this year that I didn't get to yet, so I…

There Must Be Some Mixtape: Track #12 – "Sea Monster" by Elephant Revival

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In my post about the Eddie Noack song, Psycho, the other day, I went through various other versions of the same tune. One more recent attempt, that committed to recorded life by the husband-and-wife team of author Neil Gaiman and performer Amanda Palmer, rather annoyed me. First, the versions that I have heard (all of them live) were rather lackluster in performance, which disappointed me mainly because I thought the idea of Gaiman – an author and personality whom I admire most highly – striving to croak his way through a country song could at least have been a little fun. 

The end result wasn't fun for me; it was clumsily staged and no two elements from the selection of the song to the pairing of guest musicians with star performers seemed to fit together at any time. I blamed it mostly on a rampant mood of unchecked hipsterism dominating the stage, replete with a group of weirdos delivering some OK singing saw atmosphere that might have worked just fine with this particular song …

There Must Be Some Mixtape: Track #11 – "Werewolf" by the Violent Femmes

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I have mentioned the Violent Femmes a couple of times in these mixtape pieces this month, but only in speaking tangentially to the main subject at hand. However, I did so knowing full well that I had a Femmes song on tap for later as we neared Halloween. Well, that "later" is now...

The song is called, simply, Werewolf. It's not an original song by the band, but a classic folk tune that the Femmes have occasionally covered in concert. The original song is by Michael Hurley, a revered troubadour of our modern times (and still performing at age 76) who has recorded multiple versions of the song. (Hurley is also known for drawing his own comics and album covers featuring werewolf characters, so the creatures are a regular motif in his work.)

This song, as you will hear, is perfectly suited to lead singer Gordon Gano's voice, and given his penchant for off-kilter subject matter and dark humor, not really a surprise to hear coming from the band. I had first thought about in…

Countdown to Halloween: Cars Land "Haul-O-Ween" Part II

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My trip to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure with my mother-in-law Sande last week resulted in a wonderful batch of pictures featuring many of the decorative changes to the area for what they are calling "Haul-O-Ween" this year. It is easy for me to get jaded by such things, but Disney has really done an incredible job of making the whole of Cars Land a truly immersive holiday experience for everyone.

[You can check out Pt. I of this piece here.]


However, I didn't cover the area as much as I had originally wished in the relatively short time we had to visit Cars Land that afternoon. Luckily, I knew that I would get to spend at least a couple more chunks of time there in the coming week. With my friend Janie (wife of one of my oldest friends in the world, Tony) in town as she stayed with us for the weekend on a business break, I knew that Saturday would be a great chance to collect shots of some of the missing details.



First stop was the billboard at the entrance to C…

There Must Be Some Mixtape: Tracks #6-10 – Variations on "Psycho"

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In 1968, Leon Payne wrote a dark, little murder ballad called Psycho. According to Payne's daughter Myrtie Le Payne in an article on the Nashville Scene website, it was conceived out of a conversation with a fellow musician regarding the Richard Speck nurse murders that occurred in 1966, and then the talk continued to expand and include other famous killers throughout the century to that point. America's fascination with mass murdering fuckheads was still in the building stages – the term "serial killer" would not even reach the popular vernacular until the late '70s – and Leon Payne was simply as following suit. From out of that fascination, Leon Payne spun one of the darkest, strangest ballads ever put out as a single to the record-buying public. While the song has never gone on to be a real hit, it has been covered by a wide variety of artists, mostly due to the subject matter and the slyness of Payne's lyrics mixed with the song's oddly plaintive melo…

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