Archive for the ‘50/50’ Category

Mad Men — Once in a Lifetime

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

My superfan mix, set to Talking Heads. Watch it now before it gets pulled! Final episodes start tomorrow!

Countdown King

Monday, June 16th, 2014

american_top_40_logoI listened to American Top 40 religiously throughout middle school, famously running out of the room during the ball drop at midnight when WKBO played the year-end countdown on New Year’s Eve. In the mid-’70s, Casey Kasem’s voice was everywhere: countdowns, commercials and cartoons. It was inescapable, and that was OK.

Sadly, his last few months reads like one of the bizarre dedications he made every week on AT40. R.I.P. Casey Kasem

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/16/business/media/casey-kasem-wholesome-voice-of-pop-radio-dies-at-82.html?hp&_r=0

Save the Murals: The Next Stage

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

#savethesthsmuralsAs I may have mentioned once or twice on facebook — 🙂 — the murals in the halls of Susquehanna Twp. High School received a reprieve this week, when the school board changed the installation plans of a new HVAC system for the building.

This is a huge win for the artists and alumni, who quickly came together to preserve almost 45 years worth of artwork and an important piece of our collective history.

Some of you have been asking what comes next, and how you might help. The deal we reached was made possible by the generosity of the McClure Company — who agreed to knock almost half of the cost needed to protect the paintings during this summer’s construction — but also by a promise from the community to raise the rest of the funds ourselves.

Right now that number is $92,000.

Over the next month, hundreds of alumni and their families will attempt to bridge that gap with an online kickstarter. This includes NFL wide receiver and STHS grad Marques Colston, who is donating some of the proceeds from the remaining home games of the Harrisburg Stampede, his arena football team. We will also be putting together a team of photographers and designers to scan and digitize the murals to create a permanent record of the 80-some paintings that adorn the halls.

mural82If you went to my high school in the early ’80s, you might remember all the time I spent on that scaffolding painting my senior year. (I’ll admit it, it was a good excuse to get out of class, but I still learned an amazing amount that semester.) Now multiply that effort, that creativity, by 80 artists. That’s what we’re trying to save.

So, we’re now asking you, the public, if you would donate and help us reach our goal. $10, $25, whatever you can — it’s all good.

You can give online at https://fundly.com/save-the-sths-murals
— or you may write a check to the STHS Alumni Association,
PO Box 61474, Harrisburg, Pa. 17106-1474.
(Please note “Murals” on your check.)

The Fundly site is convenient but they take 4%-7% for fees. Mailing a check to the Alumni Association has the advantage of being an 501(c)(3) public charity, so your donation is tax deductible, and the full amount goes to Save the Murals.

Thank you. Seriously
+Jape

Song #15: “Heart of Glass” — Blondie (1979)

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

debbieharry

Song #15: “Heart of Glass” — Blondie (1979)

(This recent photo of Debbie Harry by Annie Leibovitz has jump started my 50/50 countdown of favorites. I mean, how can you say no to a woman with a sword? After the last year my ambitions have been tempered, so I’ll be posting 1-2 entries a week, writing about my favorite books, movies, games  and songs, until we reach #1.)

Blondie’s “Parallel Lines” should have been in my list of top 50 albums. I don’t know why it isn’t. Debbie Harry’s ying and yang of lust and loathing (“One Way or Another,” “Hanging on the Telephone” “Just Go Away”) is still a skewed and hilarious take on modern love. But it’s “Heart of Glass” that beats them all. I could listen to that rolling syncopation and playful synth endlessly. Here it is, coming in at #15:

50/50 returns

Monday, January 13th, 2014

—in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

Time & space [director’s cut]

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

I spent the last three months time traveling. It is not unlike deep sea diving in that, if you come up too fast, you get the bends.

In preparing for my father’s memorial service, I sort through four score and more years’ worth of family photos and six hours of home movies, unearthing Kodachrome slides that looked like they were taken yesterday, and damaged, dreamlike 8mm footage. —> We are in the large church I grew up in, in a small town in Pennsylvania, greeting friends, neighbors, parishioners. It is as if we never left 40 years ago, even if everything seems to have shrunk a little. <— After the service, my brother and I take his daughters on a tour of the old Sunday School building. Little has been altered since it was built in the 1950s; the steps to the second floor still retain the exact same rubber tread, with its same institutional echo. For just a second, as I run down the stairwell to catch up, I am 10 years old. —> My father served many churches. We are approached by the pastor who now lives in the last parsonage our family occupied. He tells us our dad’s darkroom is still intact in his basement, and we are welcome to salvage it. How can this be? We thought it had been placed in storage when my dad retired, but he apparently left it behind. It is like finding King Tut’s tomb. Still carefully covered in plastic, the phot o enlarger has remained untouched for 20 years. My dad’s crudely drawn instructions are still taped to the wall. I find a note scrawled in black marker, in my handwriting. What year is this? 1988? I wonder if I still have time to call my girlfriend, the one who moved to Paris. <— I am on the campus of a Big Ten university for an academic symposium on cartooning, a few weeks later. It is a bright, bitter fall morning and I am hungover after a night out with fellow artists. At breakfast, the cafeteria’s speakers pump out songs by Simple Minds and The Romantics. I can’t tell if it’s 1984 or not. —> Back in Durham, I start packing in earnest for the move to the new Indy office. Sifting through towers of back issues on my desk, I reduce years of work to a thin wafer of tearsheets, compressing the last decade of my career into a fleet flipbook. We uncover and discard the bones of dozens of failed and forgotten projects and bundle walls of plaques and awards the staff has won in bubblewrap. Didn’t we just do this at the old house on Hillsborough Street? <— The concurrent weekend-long remembrance of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination and the debut of Dr. Who tells me I’m getting close. “OK,” I think, “This is where I came in.” If I can just close the loop, I’ll be back in the present. — JP Trostle

This is the original version of the column I submitted to Indy Week for the Dec. 11th issue. The editor decided to go with a far more conventional edit of my piece — it’s OK; you can read it here — but I wanted to get my dreamlike take out there..

[50/50] Between a rock and hard place II

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

This bring my 50/50 countdown to the Top 15 — and a conundrum.

Clearly this year has not gone as planned. A severe injury and my dad’s death have left me reeling, and months behind my original schedule. At the current rate, I’d have to post at least one entry every day for the rest of the year to make my 50th birthday deadline. That’s at least 75 essays, each one getting no doubt longer as we get closer to #1. I really do enjoy writing these, but at 150 words an hour (yes, I’m that slow a writer), it is just not going to be possible to make my deadline and give my picks the praise they deserve. Certainly not with the holidays encroaching, certainly not with more pressing needs at work and at home.

I could skip through the list and just post the names — but where’s the fun in that? Plus, it’s not like my No. 1 movie or album is going anywhere …

Anyway, the countdown will continue as soon possible.

[50/50] Between a rock and a hard place

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

SomeGirls78This entry is about the oddest concert experience I ever had. This is also the only opportunity I’ll have to write about the Rolling Stones as (spoiler alert) they don’t appear anywhere in my Top 50, songs or albums. (Although, it should be noted, “Some Girls” came close to making the cut, and I always had a soft spot for their oddball hit “Emotional Rescue,” if only because I remember my friend Monty mocking Mick Jagger’s soliloquy at the end of the song, endlessly repeating “I will be your knight in shiiiiiinning aaaaaaaaaaamour …. on a fine aaaaaaaarab chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarger” as we played D&D in the Link’s basement.)

Anyway, back to the concert. After years of listening to my friend Rusty go on and on about how awesome the Stones’ famous 1981 tour was, and, having never seen them play live —[ Fun Fact Aside! One of the very first shows the Stones ever played in the U.S. was at the FARM SHOW ARENA in Harrisburg … in 1964! ]— my brother got us tickets to the 1989 Steel Wheels tour. This tour was notable in that a) it was the first band stage so tall it required FAA lights at the top of the structure so planes wouldn’t hit it and b) it was widely reported that this would be the Rolling Stones final tour.

… I’ll give you a minute so you can stop laughing…

So there we were, in Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia with 100,000 people before a structure the size of an aircraft carrier, with stories-high blowup dolls flanking the stage and swaying back and forth as Mick and Keith played the hits. They veered into stuff off their latest album and had just broken into a number called “Rock and a Hard Place” when a fight broke out in the row in front of us. Stadium security quickly appeared, but instead of coming down the aisle, they decided to swarm over the seats of our section and make a beeline for the brawl. Suddenly, my brother and I were in the middle of a huge scrum between the frat boys, still throwing punches, and overzealous guards grabbing over our heads. The crush of people carried us back and forth like a rugby ball as the chorus reached its crescendo and Jagger yelled repeatedly “Between a ROCK” and the backup singers replied “and a HARD PLACE.”

I looked at my brother and shouted out something like, “oh the irony.”

As the song ended the cops swept down the aisle and dragged the perps out. The guards wanted to clear the whole section and tried to throw everyone out, but the police stopped them. I don’t remember much after that except that we now had a much better view of the stage. Regardless, I wanted to thank the Rolling Stones for giving me my most literal rock-n-roll experience ever.

[50/50] New Fall Schedule for JPTV

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Don’t touch that dial!

Nostalgia in the Time of Machines

cbs_logoI watched too much television growing up. My dad always warned us that if we didn’t stop, we’d turn into one giant eye — like the CBS logo. And he was right. TV is a drug, a powerful narcotic, and I was an addict. I wasted many many hours on really stupid shows, hours that I wish I had back now to waste on something important.

That said, there was one thing I loved about television, and that was the strange modern custom American networks developed around the launch of the fall season. The TV Guide preview, the annual handicapping of new shows, the ritual sacrifice of the first cancellation. Even if I didn’t watch all the shows (and you couldn’t back then), I loved looking at the programming grid.

Head over to wikipedia and check out the grids for every TV season back to 1946: it is a…

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[50/50] New Fall Schedule for JPTV

Monday, September 30th, 2013

cbs_logoI watched too much television growing up. My dad always warned us that if we didn’t stop, we’d turn into one giant eye — like the CBS logo. And he was right. TV is a drug, a powerful narcotic, and I was an addict. I wasted many many hours on really stupid shows, hours that I wish I had back now to waste on something important.

That said, there was one thing I loved about television, and that was the strange modern custom American networks developed around the launch of the fall season. The TV Guide preview, the annual handicapping of new shows, the ritual sacrifice of the first cancellation. Even if I didn’t watch all the shows (and you couldn’t back then), I loved looking at the programming grid.

Head over to wikipedia and check out the grids for every TV season back to 1946: it is a fascinating time capsule, especially when it comes to shows, concepts and entire networks you’ve probably never heard of (Rhumba dancing in prime time! Something called the DuMont Network!)

It wasn’t just me — there were actually several different board games in the ’60s and early ’70s where players would compete against each other in creating successful programming lineups for fictional networks.

While I generally agree with Marshall McLuhan’s famous assessment of TV, there are a few shows I could watch again (and again in summer repeats) that I have fond memories of, or are just truly great on a literary, cultural or entertaining level. So with that in mind, I give you the perfect Fall Schedule for JPTV.

TV grid

[click on grid to enbiggen]