Last night, Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton faced off with Republican Donald Trump at Washington University in St. Louis for the second debate ahead of the 2016 election. What were some of the highlights?

–*Trump told Evangelicals that, as lord, he would personally put Clinton in hell.

–*Trump upstaged Clinton several times by humping a chair while she did her speech, but that happens all the time in Shakespeare.

–*Trump held a pre-debate conference with several women who have accused Bill Clinton of lewd behavior or assault, showing his supporters that Trump himself is the accused rapist alleged rape survivors are most comfortable with.

–*A fly briefly flew onto Hillary Clinton’s nose during the debate, which I’m pretty sure is a fulfillment of some Biblical prophecy according to a guy in a trailer scratching his ball sack.

–*Actually, the fly, in choosing Hillary’s face, might have reasonably asked, “Which people in this debate are less likely to be breathing through their mouths?”

–*Clinton was put on the defensive about the way she used her e-mail server, Post-it Notes, thumb tacks, brads, index cards and No. 2 pencils.

–*Trump said that the recently discovered tape of him boasting about unwanted sexual advances was just locker room talk. The nation’s water cooler distributors hastily responded that water coolers are still a great place to discuss groping, grab-assing and unwanted massaging.

–*Hillary Clinton was born in 1947. Today, Syria is in ruins. We rest our case.

–*Trump supporters meekly asked him, “When are you going to become the qualified candidate I never asked you to be up until now?”

–*An important thing to remember when considering the nation’s crucial energy policy is that … Bill Clinton is a rapist … and where are the e-mails, Hillary? Thirty-three thousand emails!

–*You notice that the meaningless “socialism” talk suddenly disappeared? You don’t really think about it, but it’s kind of like your ear popped and all of a sudden life is a little nicer because that card has been overplayed. Ooo! That feels nice!

–*Trump said Muslims need to report things about other Muslims. But if you’re white and you report another white person, then we are really just living in a hellish police state.

–*Ken Bone doesn’t know if people are laughing at him or laughing with him.

–*America doesn’t know if they are laughing at Ken Bone or laughing with him.

–*Trump reminds audience that he dates 10s and Clinton’s husband has shown a disturbing propensity for sixes.

–*We all make mistakes and we are all forgiven. But as we forgive Donald Trump twice a week during this election cycle, we must remember that several years ago, Hillary Clinton lost 33,000 emails. C’mon, Hillary! Where are those emails?

–*Has anybody stopped to think that if Hillary Clinton suddenly lied and claimed that Vince Foster was actually alive–alive but that nobody would ever be able to find him or prove it–that this would pale in comparison to the lies regular Republicans regularly tell about her? Yes, that’s actually how big the lies about her are, when you put them in context. Yes! Really! The idea that she radioed from a helicopter and said “Let everybody in Benghazi die!” is a bigger lie than the idea that Vince Foster is running around right now, checking his phone and drinking wheatgrass shots in a villa with an ocean view. That’s how big you’re lying when you say Benghazi is a scandal.

–*Trump manages to avoid the one true thing he could say about Hillary Clinton: “Gee lady, if you had one fluid ounce of charisma, nobody would be actually considering a neo-fascist monster like me for a second.”

Tonight, Gov. Mike Pence, the VP contender on the Republican presidential ticket, faced off with Sen. Tim Kaine in a debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. What were some of the highlights?

–*Each candidate got only two minutes to yell over the other candidate.

–*Vladimir Putin doesn’t care if you talk bad about him. He just likes it when people are talking about him.

–*Mike Pence says America is a giant about to be unleashed but it can’t help but keep tripping over all these tiny homosexuals.

–*People don’t like it when Donald Trump interrupts them. Tim Kaine took that to heart and interrupted people only while not being Donald Trump.

–*After a campaign season full of tabloid distractions, Kaine and Pence got Americans comfortable wading back into highly superficial policy discussions.

–*America is a great nation with one of the largest economies on Earth, shrinking unemployment, and growing wages, and Mike Pence is sorry to have to call the country an open sewer if only for the purposes of this debate.

–*”Boorish, thin-skinned and intemperate” are not qualities we can trust in the leader of the free world. But in the VP slot, what the hell … “Go, Tim, now!”

–*Mike Pence shows the savvy, calm, even tone that observers often equate with politics or an imminent suicide attempt.

–*Is there a political suicide hotline?

–*Republicans cheer on candidate who demonstrates the glib, tik-tik-tik robot speak of all the qualified people they flushed out the airplane toilet during primary season.

–*Tim Kaine has walked the walk and tonight he wouldn’t stop talking the talk.

–*Kaine is not just making a historic bid with a powerful female presidential contender, he’s also vying for Joe Biden’s job as outspoken, lovable brain-fart mascot.

–*Mad lib fun: People say that Hillary Clinton has got to be in some kind of deep-seated denial to stay married to Bill Clinton given his indiscretions.

… Mike Pence …. …Donald Trump … whole Mussolini thing.

–*Pence makes a winning case for Evangelists being screwed by Trump: “Now you can just imagine my face when he’s doing it to you.”

–*The phrase, “I got suckered into Farmville” is now a twice-repeallant thought.

–*America asks, “Who are these guys to talk so tough?” And by that they mean, “Really, who are those two guys? I don’t recognize them.”


For #400poundhacker?

If Trump is elected, we can trust he’s going to set the FBI, CIA and ATF in hot pursuit of this guy. He’s out there!

The Church of Low Expectations (2)My 11th album, “The Church of Low Expectations” is now available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby, released under my nom de rock,  Salon de la Guerre. It’s a pop album of dark doings, where strained, ethically challenged characters straddle the abyss but reach for the light. As I say on the music sites, it continues my “exploration of electronic music as a means of balancing noise and melody. Its lyrics include small vignettes of players and grifters who wistfully muse about life, helplessness and horror.”

This is my fourth album in 2016. I somehow managed to get 65 new songs produced since January after switching to Garage Band software on my iPhone 6s. Again, I don’t know if this is an advertisement for me or for Apple. I did sometimes use available loops and drum beats from Garage Band, but I also discovered a heretofore undiscovered talent to play piano–as long as it’s a tiny piano on a tiny phone. That made the arranging fast and easy.

Though “The Church of Low Expectations” and “Roses Don’t Push the Car Home” (released a couple of months ago) were recorded simultaneously and were really twin albums, I did see them diverging in theme and mood. “Roses” is more poppy and upbeat, and “Church” is more brooding and experimental, much more focused on dark themes like death and isolation, but unlike my album “Toe-Tapping Songs of Pain and Loss,” it’s thrown over garage rock noise for electronica and hip-hop beats.

It was a big leap for me and probably strange for anybody who has heard or liked any of my older albums. But it was worth it. Blame it on Apple, but I found new things I could do with music this year and I don’t know if I’ve ever been as excited or confident about making it.

For now, I’m going to let it rest. Of course, I have more song fragments in my head, but for now I need to attend to my long-neglected novels. If my time with music has taught me anything, it’s that finishing things feels really great.

RIP Gene Wilder

I’m thinking of a film called “The World’s Greatest Lover” right now. A 1977 film. Written and directed by Gene Wilder. It never got a lot of love from critics, and while I understand why, it’s always been comfort food for me as a Wilder fan. Because in some ways I always saw him as a silent film star out of his time–stuck in the 1970s, when method acting and documentary realism ruled. Really, how out of place would Wilder be if you dropped him into “Metropolis” or “The General” or “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”? He was a walking special effect. His own form of commedia dell’arte. He wrote things like the fake cane scene from “Willy Wonky” himself and made simple shtick rise above silliness. Pair him with perfect expressionist film heroine Carol Kane as his wife, both dreaming bigger things while trying to stay happy together, and you still have something very poignant. Beyond that …. “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka” I’m with the rest of you, and am reminded how important this man was to my childhood. RIP.

Liberty Cover

It just so happens that it is. Salon de la Guerre’s 10th album has just hit the digital music stores–CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.

The album is an aural collage. Twenty musical fragments meant to be listened to forward, backward or minced up, plus there are a few novelty numbers for sass. Steve Reich meets Talking Heads. OK, I just made that up. It’s simply a strange experiment in classical music-derived tunes and rock.

I made this album simultaneously with “Gravitas: A Life,” and as “Gravitas” developed as an extended musical work with repeated motifs, I tried to do the opposite with “Liberty.” This album invites shuffling.

As I say in the artist’s description on CD Baby:

“The album is meant to be listened to from beginning to end, from back to front or on shuffle—a reflection of the way music is now consumed and emotionally processed by audiences. The album largely removes traditional pop melodies and opts for song phrases that are more open ended and jarringly interrupted, whose beginnings and endings are as nebulous as those of the album itself. Unlike its predecessor, “Gravitas: A Life,” the album thwarts the idea of structural intelligence in a pop album so that the job of reconstituting the music belongs to the listener.”

Again, all the music is arranged and composed by me. And although the album is an electronic work and defies the idea of “performance,” especially when I occasionally use loops, beats and samples, many of these are in fact keyboard parts performed by me on Garage Band’s internal synthesizer. The album, like “Gravitas” and “Roses Don’t Push The Car Home,” was part of a quartet of albums I produced almost entirely on my iPhone. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to be impressed by me or by Apple.

And of course the model on the cover is my lovely wife, looking stranded as she ponders a dark bamboo forest near a Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

My Symphony


Gravitas Album Cover

As I noted a while back, I ventured into classically inspired symphonic music this past spring, and completed a long-form piece called “Gravitas: A Life.” It is now available on Amazon.com, CD Baby and iTunes.

I still have a lot of garage rock music under my belt and will be releasing more of it in the upcoming weeks, but on this, my ninth album, I was curious to see whether I could make something designed for an orchestra.

I describe the album this way on my CD Baby page: “A symphonic work mixing classical music approaches such as concerto grosso, atonality, musique concrete and minimalism, as well as rock ‘n’ roll rhythms.” “A pastiche” might be a better phrase. I hope it doesn’t sound like jive, in any case, because the process was completely intuitive and I can leave it to others to decide what to call it. Whether you think of it as a stress-test for the iPhone on which I made it, a movie soundtrack looking for a film to play on or just nice background music, I hope you enjoy it.

For perhaps another week or so, I’m leaving an earlier version of the album in its entirety up on YouTube, where you can enjoy it for free for the time being.