Category Archives: blog

The Rock Blog Tour

Today marks the beginning of The Rock Blog Tour, featuring Skinn Jakkitt. The first stop is at The Southern Girl’s Guide to Life by Whitney Coble, and you can check it out here.

Upcoming stops will be at the blogs of Tim Marquitz, Becca Butcher, Kristyn Phipps, Jennifer Walker, and Robin Renee. I’ll be hosting the tour right here at Welcome to Hell on December 1st.

Please visit Skinn Jakkitt’s website, hear them at ReverbNation, Like them on Facebook, and Follow them on Twitter.

Where Have I Been?

Yeah, I’ve been delinquent over here on The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog. It’s been at least since June that I’ve done anything here, and now it’s November. I haven’t forgotten you, I’ve just been busy.

I am still playing games. My recent purchase of an iPad Mini has attracted me to a few games that I continue to play. I am still addicted to Simpsons Tapped Out, currently cleaning out ghosts for Halloween, and of course, Candy Crush Saga. I’m also playing Avengers Alliance, a whole lot of Injustice and one or two others. It’s notable that I’m spoiled by the iPad, and no longer play any of these on my tiny iPhone.

Right now however, it’s November, and November is NaNoWriMo, so I will be very busy. So I just wanted to check in, and I’ll see you in December.

Random Tater Pic of the Day #117

What This Blog Is About

Yesterday, I received two messages, one on Facebook before I posted the Miley Cyrus piece, and one by email after it went up. They were both of the same ilk, and I’m not talking about the hideously bad spelling and grammar. Both folks thought I was adding fuel to the apathetic fire by writing about Miley Cyrus. One gentleman indicated I was un-American and didn’t care about politics because I wasn’t writing about Syria, and worse than that, writing about Miley instead of Syria. Both of them threatened to stop being readers of mine.

It bugged me at first. I am political, and I care intensely about the Syria situation and the lost lives both present and future. But you know what? That’s not what I’m about here. Welcome to Hell is a blog, just a blog, and I talk about pop culture here. I talk about movies, television, comics, music, books, the industry in general, basically anything that turns my crank, in either direction, in entertainment. This blog is not about politics. Surely these two folks wouldn’t want me to talk Syria over at French Fry Diary or The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog, would they? Then why should I do it here? Stay on topic.

My take yesterday on the Miley Cyrus thing was not one of exhibition or hedonism. If you read carefully, it was one of concern. The woman is on a path of self-destruction. If she shows an entire nation, no, the entire world, that she is crying for help – why isn’t anyone helping her? Yes, she put on a freakshow, but that wasn’t my message, like it was for many in the entertainment news business.

For the record, my views on Miley and Syria are pretty much mirrored by one of my favorite bloggers, Liz Henry, over at The Broad Side. You can read it here. I love her writing, I love her voice, and you should too. I’m just the comics and fry guy, she takes on the tough stuff.

To my two upset readers – I hope you keep reading, but I’m sorry, I won’t be talking politics here. It just ain’t happening, folks.

The Robin Renee Blog Tour – Wrap-Up

Wrapping things up here on the Robin Renee Blog Tour, and I want to thank everyone involved. Special thanks goes out to all the folks who participated and helped with to tour, including, and not limited to, Shelley Szajner, Marie Gilbert, Becca Butcher, Patti O’Brien, Fran Metzman, Ray Cornwall, Andy Burns, the South Jersey Writers, the GAR! Podcast, Biff Bam Pop!, and especially to Robin Renee herself. You all rock, very hard! Thank you!

Here is a breakdown of the stops on the Blog Tour.

Robin Renee is interviewed by Shelley Szajner here about inspiration, Kirtan, and This..

Marie Gilbert runs down some of the places where Robin can be found on the internet here.

Becca Butcher gives her thoughts on the This. release here.

Here, I give a song by song review of This., along with Robin adding her thoughts and observations as well.

Patti O’Brien talks about Robin’s music, and then interviews her about her travels here.

We return to Welcome to Hell, where guest blogger Fran Metzman interviews Robin about her influences, inspirations, and creative process. See it here.

Over on the South Jersey Writers blog, Marie Gilbert returns to interview Robin about encouragement, inspiration, and the ups and downs of a music career.

Robin was a guest on The GAR! Podcast where discussion included DEVO, David Bowie, Saturday Night Live music moments, and the creative process. You can listen to the episode here.

And finally, you can go here for the Biff Bam Pop! interview with Robin Renee, with a few edits for space considerations showing up here.

Robin can be found at her website, and on her blog, and check out her music at CD Baby, and at iTunes. Follow her on Twitter here, and Like her Facebook page here.

And don’t forget about Robin’s terrific new single “All I Am,” now available at CD Baby, with 20% of the proceeds going to the You Will Rise Project.

Thank you, everyone!

The Robin Renee Blog Tour, Odds and Ends

Hi folks, it’s been a long journey the past week and a half on the Robin Renee Blog Tour. Tonight, I wanted to share a few odds and ends that had to be edited for space in yesterday’s interview with Robin at Biff Bam Pop!. Here you go, enjoy!

Robin on Covers

We both have a deep love of covers, and I wanted to say that your quiet subtle version of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” is beautiful. What made you decide to do this song?

Robin Renee: Well, there’s a funny story. When I was in junior high school, I had a Ouija board. When my parents found out, they got all mad and took it away, thinking something evil would come through it or something. After that, I was pissed off and determined to have a Ouija board. I decided to make one by writing out all the letters on a chalkboard I had (in heavy pencil or some kind of ink). Next, I needed an indicator. I had the 45 record of “Cruel to be Kind.” I loved that song, but wasn’t crazy about whatever song was on the B-side, so I wound up using the record as the Ouija indicator with the B-side scratching against the board.

Devo Dan

Wacky story, right? But unforgettable. So first, “Cruel to be Kind” is just a quintessentially great pop song. I was also a rather precocious person and was a bit interested in BDSM, so I liked the song title for that possible construed meaning. And finally, the song will forever be linked to that funny Ouija board memory for me. I guess when I made the All Six Senses album, it was just time to record a new take on this classic tune.

Robin on Devo Dan

Now you have done other covers of another type. Do you want to talk about Devo Dan?

Robin Renee: Devo Dan… Strange you should ask me about Devo Dan. From time to time, some people have told me I kind of look like him and some think I sound like him. I don’t really get it. But I finally looked him up and I like it a lot! It’s kind of synth pop meets the smooth sounds of the 70’s, or something like that. I found his story here and my favorite Devo Dan song is here.

Robin on the Mutant Mountain Boys

How about the Mutant Mountain Boys?

Robin Renee: I absolutely love being part of the Mutant Mountain Boys! We come from all over the country, so we get together when we can. The band is the brainchild of Samantha, whose musical favorites are Devo and Charlie Poole. She put the two together, added some Church of the Subgenius, and Presto! You’ve got a Devo-gone-bluegrass, SubG gospel band! We have so much fun, and I really hope we can figure out a way to get together and play more often. We need some nerds and geeks to invite us to play their favorite venues and conventions (hint, hint).

Check out “Look Away from the Pinks” and a few other Mutant Mountain Boys tunes.

Robin on the Holidays

You have also released a couple terrific and unique holiday songs over the years, “(Almost Had A) Holiday,” “The Yule Song,” and “Hare Krishna Christmas.” What can you tell us about these great tunes, and especially the video for that last one?

Robin Renee: I know, I didn’t set out to have a tradition of releasing holiday songs, but it seems a trend has started! Who knows – maybe there’ll be a holiday album one of these days that includes the tunes already recorded plus some more from various traditions. “The Yule Song” is to the tune of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” and it kind of serves the same humorous and serious function for those of us who celebrate Yule, or Winter Solstice in the Pagan traditions. “(Almost Had A) Holiday” is actually an original song I first recorded with a band I used to be in called The Loved Ones. It is upbeat, but about planning a perfect holiday with a partner only to have a breakup and wind up somewhere far away. It’s a fairly true-to-life song, and the cool thing about it is it’s come full circle – After many years apart, I have started spending Christmas Eves with that ex and his family. It’s a nice shift.

I wrote “Hare Krishna Christmas” (“Holly Jolly Christmas” parody) around the time I was first getting deeply into kirtan and bhakti. It was Christmastime and I was just in this really intense place of diving into something new while trying to uphold all the traditional stuff and holiday obligations. So, I was kind of laughing at myself and that song just came out while I was doing my holiday decorating. For the video, I asked friends to send me all kinds of holiday pictures, I had a few, and we used some royalty-free images, too, to come up with something kind of funny and also clearly embracing all winter holiday traditions.

Robin on Her Background

If I’m not intruding, could you tell us about your upbringing?

Robin Renee: I was born a poor, black child (Somehow that line was funnier when Steve Martin said it.)

But seriously, folks… you aren’t intruding at all. It is a ginormous question, though. I grew up in Southern New Jersey and I was lucky in that my interest in music showed up pretty early and my parents were very supportive of that. They also encouraged my interest in science and I got to travel since I was fairly young, which I really appreciate. My parents are (were, actually – they are both deceased) my maternal grandmother and her second husband, who raised me from the beginning and adopted me when I was about five. She was black and he was white, so I had a completely biracial upbringing, though it took me a long time to recognize that as a big part of my identity. I’m really happy I understand that now. They had an interracial marriage several years before Loving v. Virginia, and while it was not illegal in New Jersey, I think it was courageous of them and probably wasn’t always easy early on.

There was always a lot of music in the house, and my parents were pretty metaphysical in their outlook. They were Christian, and also into Edgar Cayce, so I learned about meditation and other broad and alternative spiritual perspectives early on. My brother was there, then off at college & other travels, but we grew to have certain things in common like some musical tastes and love of cartoons. My grandmother (i.e. biological great-grandmother) lived with us, too, and she really was the overriding mother figure. I have often reflected that I think my relationship to Grandmom has been the purest of my life – there was just so much love without complication. My mom was pretty political, so I probably inherited the activist gene from her. Of course there is so much more, but I’m not sure what else I could say without writing a book here.

Robin on Wigheads

Tell us about Wigheads.

Robin Renee: I kinda have no idea. I love them. I find mannequins in general to be strangely compelling and beautiful – maybe that’s the New Wave/Gary Wilson aesthetic. Somewhere along the line, something moved me and I discovered that wig display heads are my canvas for now. I love making 3-D collages with them, and as I work it’s as if they start to tell me their story. Songs and other writings do that, too – they change and grow in the process. I’d like to make more wigheads, and to make photographs from them. I have a lot of other practical and artistic projects that seem to be ahead in line, but I haven’t forgotten them. One day, I’d love to do commissioned wighead works, like create them for clubs and other interesting spaces.

More to come!

Robin Renee – The Biff Bam Pop! Interview

Robin Renee with Spy Gods at Deiner Park, New Brunswick, NJ

Photo by Joel Primer 

Today’s stop on the Robin Renee Blog Tour is a big one, a 2500+ word interview at the pop culture website Biff Bam Pop!. You can check it out here.

In the interview, Robin discusses her music, her musical past (including Spy Gods, pictured), labels, and features some great performance video. Do not miss.

Tomorrow, be back here at Welcome to Hell, as the Blog Tour winds down for a wrap-up and unseen excerpts of interviews from the tour.

French Fry Diary 506: DEVO

Lost Hits of the New Wave #26

“Jocko Homo” by DEVO

Over on The GAR! Podcast, as part of the Robin Renee Blog Tour, Ray and I interviewed Robin for about a half-hour or so. One of the things that came up in conversation was transformative moments in music on “Saturday Night Live.”

In those early seasons of the program I was exposed to many new musical experiences that shaped and influenced how I perceived music, and in the growing punk and new wave atmosphere of the late 1970s, “SNL” was full of new musical experiences. Both Robin and I were affected by an appearance by David Bowie. Ray talked about seeing Fishbone, although much later. I remember being amazed by Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, The Specials, The Clash, the B-52s, Gary Numan, and yes, DEVO.

I wouldn’t be as hardcore into the band as I was later in the Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists years, but the visuals and sounds stayed with me. I was especially drawn to their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and that it did what all covers should seek to do, overtake the original. I still to this day feel the DEVO version is superior to the Stones’.

Don’t forget to get over to garpodcast.com, and listen to the Robin Renee interview, and go to Biff Bam Pop! tomorrow for the next stop in the Blog Tour.

The Robin Renee Blog Tour, Stop Eight and Beyond

Just a reminder, today’s stop on the Robin Renee Blog Tour is at the South Jersey Writers blog, Tall Tales and Short Stories, you can check out regular site blogger Marie Gilbert‘s interview with Robin there.

Probably as you read this tonight, my partner Ray Cornwall and I will be interviewing Robin on The GAR! Podcast, and that will be posted tomorrow morning as Stop Nine on the Tour.

On Friday, be sure to check out the Robin Renee interview at Biff Bam Pop!, then come back here on Saturday for the close of the tour.

Robin can be found at her website, on her blog, at CD Baby, and at iTunes. Follow her on Twitter here, and Like her Facebook page here.