Sunday, November 20, 2011

"the happy genius of my household"

Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,--

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"shout it out, shatter your lungs"

I have a couple things to share with you on this rainy, September weekend.
First off, a prolific zine writer and one of my long-time pen pals, Laura-Marie (of Eric and Laura-Marie Magazine and Functionally Ill), recently started a zine review blog, which can be found at Laura-Marie is passionate about zine publishing and the reviews she includes in her zines are always interesting to read, so I'm sure the review blog will be equally great. If you're interested in seeing your zine reviewed on her blog, email her for her mailing address at She's interested in reviewing most any zine except for music zines.
The second thing you should check out is Chelsea Lincoln's interview on the Our Hen House podcast. Chelsea (another long-time pen pal) is the author of Flavor Vegan blog and was recently a speaker and panelist at the Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR. In the interview Chelsea talks about being vegan, her activism and how activism can mean something different for different people, and fat acceptance among other things. Chelsea is extremely articulate and passionate, and the interview is fun to listen to, so check it out, okay!?

Monday, September 05, 2011

"there's a violence in everyone"

After a several month long hiatus, I am back to posting zine reviews at Syndicated Zine Reviews. I didn’t mean to take such a long break. I just got a little swamped with other things. However, the zines kept piling up, and I started feeling like a jerk and a lazy bum for not getting around to writing reviews for the nice folks who were kind enough to send me their zines, so I finally decided to get on it. You should visit the site and check out all the great postings that are updated regularly (and not just by me, of course). If nothing else, it provides proof that the zine scene is still alive and well, and that all those naysayers and nincompoops that keep on saying print is dead are just dead wrong.

Additionally, I received a postcard from a zine friend a few weeks ago that is just too awesome not to share with someone, so here it is.

How cool is that?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"we should live until we die"

I recently moved into an apartment in the woods. It is a small place in the lower floor of a modest house. I am not completely isolated – I have neighbors, but they are no longer just across the hall or right next door, and the nearest store (which is unfortunately Wal-Mart) is about 4 miles away. I am not a city boy by any means, but I have grown accustomed to living in town, walking distance from the post office and biking distance from pretty much anything else that I might need or want. I hate driving, but now I don’t really have a choice. It’s not that I’m complaining or anything; after all, it’s beautiful out here, and the solace and solitude are unmatched. I can play my guitar as loud as I want (as long as my landlord isn’t around), and I can listen to the insects and birds all day long rather than being inundated with car and pedestrian traffic continuously. I can walk aimlessly through the woods and spy on the deer. I even saw a chipmunk outside my window recently, plus I’ve heard owls hooting and seen bats swooping around eating mosquitoes, etc. However, there is one major drawback, my cell phone and internet access is extremely limited. I can’t get any kind of access inside my apartment, so I have to step outside to send text messages, and I don’t have a strong enough signal to reliably make phone calls, so I’ll have to go somewhere else to do that. I reluctantly purchased a smart phone just so that I could have semi-convenient access to the internet and so that I’ll at least be able to check my email regularly. Oh, and if that’s not enough, I have no TV.

Over the years I have become a chronic multi-tasker and a lover of chaos and noise. I blame it on the fact that I grew up in a family of eight kids. As you can imagine, there was always a multitude of things happening at once in my house – constant noise and endless activity. Over the years, I became very accustomed to it. So, in my adult life a typical evening often consists of the TV on but muted, the stereo blasting, and me eating dinner while surfing the internet. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. So, you can see why no TV and limited internet access is causing some serious reflection. What am I going to do with myself now that I have been abruptly cut off from such things?

Actually, this is a good thing. I have so many things that I have been meaning to do, but the constant technological distractions seemed to have been making it nearly impossible to get to any of it. For example: I own stacks of books, comics, and graphic novels that I have never read (and there are lots of others that I have been meaning to read), I have piles of cassette tapes and CD’s that I rarely listen to (some that I haven’t listened to in years), I have dozens of zines and magazines that I have only browsed through, I have a small collection of DVD’s that I rarely watch (some that I have never watched), and I have multiple notebooks with blank pages waiting to be filled with writing, etc. Additionally, there are so many other things that I could do to pass the time: I love radio but I rarely listen to it. I have a box full of letters awaiting replies. I haven’t made a screen print or block print in months. I have tape loops to make and songs to write and record. I have languages to learn, and I’d really like to become math-ier. I like to cook and bake but I rarely get around to it. I have exploring to do and botanizing to pursue. I can even go skateboarding once in a while.

The bottom line is that I have no reason to be bored. I have no reason to complain. In fact, I should be celebrating my freedom and giving high-fives to all the neo-luddites. Life is packed with possibilities. My current situation may not be what I am accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ideal. I am excited for the opportunities that present themselves. With time, I am certain to become acclimated to not having the technological conveniences that I once had, and I will probably look back on this time with longing, wishing I could go back to the days where I didn’t have it so easy. Either that or this will be my first step towards unplugging myself for good. Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Greenwoman Magazine: A Literary Garden

The long-awaited, premiere issue of Greenwoman Magazine is finally out! After a few delays, numerous headaches, and some minor miracles (you can read all about it on the blog), Sandra finally has an issue of her new magazine completed and ready for dissemination. And it's fantastic! The first thing I noticed was just how packed with writing it is. This isn't your typical mainstream magazine all bogged down with ads and filler. There is real content in this thing. Stuff you'd actually want to read. There are several columnists (myself included) covering a variety of topics including the praying mantis, book reviews, growing poppies, and what it really means to go green. Some of the main articles discuss things like eating organic food, raising chickens, and the politics of seeds and seed saving. Also included is an interview with fiction writer, Carleen Brice, and a biography of Indian plant guru, Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose. And even that's not it! Several more pages are filled with art, comics, poetry, short fiction, etc. I haven't actually read the whole thing yet, but so far my favorite is a short piece about one woman's obsession with "stealing" native plants and seeds. There is great talent all throughout this magazine thanks to Sandra's keen eyes and ears and her refusal to settle for mediocrity, which leads me to believe that it will be a big hit, especially among the crowd that is not satisfied gushing over the usual pap.
To learn more about Greenwoman Magazine visit
To order a single issue or buy a subscription, go here.
Sandra also offers an online version - the "green" version of Greenwoman Magazine - for a reasonable price.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

"it's not punk rock if it's not a house show"

I wrote and recorded a new song, and then I made a video. The video is a bit lame - not much going on besides staring at my feet - but it was my first time making a video, so mostly I was just testing the waters. Future videos will be much better I hope.

I also posted a couple of brand new songs on soundcloud, so check that out if you want to.

More words next time.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

"with bandanas around our faces"

The Mildews is my one man pop punk band, and this is my sophomore release. It's called Misery Index, and it includes 17 tracks: 15 original songs, one cover song, and a strange voice mail message. Most of these songs are pretty short, all of them are very simple, and all of them are poorly performed and recorded. This is lo-fi punk rock after all, it's not really meant to be heard outside of my apartment bedroom, but I went ahead and made it available anyway. Don't worry, I'm not going to force it on anyone. I think these songs are worth a listen or two, but perhaps I'm a bit biased. It's definitely better than the first album though. If you'd like a copy, just let me know. Send me a request by email or letter or phone, and I'll get a copy sent your way. If you'd like to donate a few bucks for materials and postage or whatever, that's cool, too. Hopefully the next time I record an album it won't be just me in my bedroom laying down tracks on a crappy 8-track, but that's just wishful thinking. Rock 'n roll.

Dan Murphy, PO Box 363, Edwardsville, IL 62025

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

here is something you should know...

People of earth and readers of this blog (I'm sure the latter are few in number, but the former includes everyone), this is an announcement. A brand new magazine will be surfacing later this year, and it is imperative that you be aware of it. It's called Greenwoman Magazine, and it is a welcome extension of Greenwoman Zine, a publication produced by Sandra Knauf. You can learn all about this project on the Greenwoman Magazine website. I will be a columnist for this magazine, but that shouldn't be your main reason for supporting it. In fact, the magazine is certain to be packed with interesting, entertaining, and informative content by writers, artists, and activists far better versed, invested, and talented than me. My current intention is simply to promote this magazine as a future must-read. Also, I would like to make aware the Kickstarter page which Sandra has set up for this venture, where you can be a pivotal, monetary part in the unleashing of this magazine. There are several levels of donations, each with its more than generous reward. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, no problem. It's simply a place where folks can seek and gain funding for projects that they are currently working on. Donating is simple, especially if you have an Amazon account (although I don't think such a thing is required). I realize this post is long overdue, because the Greenwoman Kickstarter proposal has just over a month left to collect funds, but it's never too late to pitch in though, right? Like I said, Sandra is being more than generous in rewarding those who donate, so please check it out. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the unveiling of Greenwoman Magazine issue number one. I am certain that it will be a huge reprieve from the tripe and blather that is currently gracing many of the magazine racks these days. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

"all our fears fall on deaf ears"

Pen pals come and go, that's just the nature of the zine world. In the nearly 14 years that I've been doing zines, I've written to and received letters from hundreds of people. Most of these folks I hear from once or twice and that's it. Others will exchange letters with me for a few months or maybe even a few years, and then they'll disappear. A small handful of pen friends have stuck with me for many years and will probably be around for years to come (they're the ones I cherish the most, of course). Who knows why some pen pals don't last or why they disappear? "Life" is probably the best answer. People get busy. Stuff gets in the way. New things come along, and we lose touch. It's no big deal, really. Like I said, it's the nature of the beast. However, there are a few that I do miss, and I often wish we could have stayed in touch. Then there is that small handful of old pen friends with particularly interesting parting stories.
One such story took place nearly a decade ago. I had a pen pal named, Nikki Atwell. She ordered zines from me and sent me mix tapes in return. Some of the songs on the mix tapes were her own that she had recorded herself. I don't think our exchanges went on for too long, and at some point I stopped hearing from her. I didn't think that much of it at the time, until many months later when I received a letter from Nikki's parents. Included in the letter was a funeral program. Apparently, Nikki had died in a car accident several months earlier, and her parents were going through her address book, sending out announcements to anyone she may have known. I guess I didn't know her too well, but I still felt like it was a major loss.
The reason I bring that story up now is because recently another one of my pen friends died. His name was Tim Scannell, and he was an older man who had been doing mail art for many years. I had only been exchanging letters with him for about 18 months. I knew of his cancer and that he was receiving home hospice care, but I was still a bit shocked to receive this letter from his wife:
It was kind of her to give me the news, even though we didn't know each other too well. Of course, all of this (along with my general preoccupation with death) made me wonder: what will happen if/when I die? Will someone send letters to my pen pals to let them know that I have passed on or will they just be left hanging, wondering why I haven't written back? It makes me think I should keep an updated address book just in case.
Another recent letter came from a pen pal who is still alive today, but who apparently won't be exchanging letters with me any longer for reasons I don't quite understand. His letters have often been a bit cryptic, and this one is no exception. Along with notifying me that he had closed his PO Box, he offered no alternate return address. Apparently, Plastic Bucket is moving on to bigger and better things. Regardless, if you're out there Mr. Bucket, please feel free to write again anytime. And as for pen friends near and far, old and new, be in touch - you know I always love hearing from you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

slightly less invisible

A new issue of The Juniper is done. Would you like one? If so, I can send you one for a stamp, two quarters, a trade, or some other kind of donation. Unless I'm already planning on sending you one, then you don't need to do anything except go about your daily life like nothing happened and lo and behold a crisp, clean copy of The Juniper #14 will eventually find it's way to your mailbox, at which point you can sit in your favorite chair and read all about my guerilla gardening misadventure, my building of a rocket stove, a couple recipes I highly recommend, as well as my usual ranting and raving. Oh, there are also a few letters to the editor included along with a couple other little tidbits of the typical fare.

As per usual, you can contact me here:
Dan Murphy
PO Box 363
Edwardsville, IL 62025

money can be sent by paypal to this address (especially if you happen to have a large sum of money you'd like to donate to the cause):

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How to Build a Rocket Stove

A rocket stove is a simple wood-burning stove that can be easily constructed out of inexpensive or salvaged materials. Rocket stoves are often (although not always) portable stoves. They can be used in emergencies or as alternatives to conventional stoves both at home and outdoors. The design is very basic: fuel is fed into an opening at the base of the stove, a fire burns in the center of the stove, and heat is directed to the top of the stove through a chimney, atop of which food is cooked. Rocket stoves come in all shapes and sizes and can serve many purposes. Instructions for building a rocket stove are numerous, and designs can be very simplistic or quite complicated. The rocket stove that I built was a combination of several plans, including a few innovations of my own. Thus, the instructions that follow should not be considered the rule. Feel free to make your own modifications as necessary. In my opinion, rocket stoves should be built as cheaply as possible. So, I’m sure you can do much better than I did.

-tin snips
-drill and drill bit (of any suitable size)
-pencil (or some kind of marking device)
-whatever else you think you might need to get the job done

-mini-keg (aka party keg)
-4 inch stove pipe elbow
-4 inch to 3 inch stove pipe reducer
-aluminum foil or wood ash
-stove grate (or rack of some sort)

Start by removing the top of the mini-keg. This can be done by drilling a few holes in the top to give you a starting point. Then, using tin snips, cut from your starting point around the sides until the top of the mini-keg is open. This may result in jagged edges around the sides, so use pliers to press them down, otherwise you might end up cutting yourself later.
Next you will need to make a hole at the base for the air-intake and fuel feed. Since it’s a mini-keg, the ideal place to make the hole for this would be around the tap. Use the 4 inch end of the stove pipe reducer to trace a circle around the tap. Again, use the drill to make a few holes and the tin snips to cut out the circle.
Now you will need to begin insulating the inside of the stove. This can be done with aluminum foil or wood ash or some other material that doesn’t conduct heat. I used aluminum foil. First, create a good base. I did this by taking small folded up pieces of aluminum foil and pressing them down with the blunt end of an old axe handle. After you have a short base, fit the elbow through the lower hole, making sure that your chimney will be centered inside the mini-keg, then continue packing the aluminum foil around the elbow.
Eventually, the elbow should be packed in pretty tight. At this point, you will need to fit the stove pipe reducer on the end of the elbow to complete the chimney. The top of the reducer will likely be sticking out of the mini-keg, so you will need to cut it so that it’s flush. Do this by drawing a line around the stove pipe reducer (while it’s fitted on the elbow) even with the top of the mini-keg, and then use tin snips to cut off the excess pipe (you might be able to cut it off with a hacksaw as well). Once the reducer is fitted on the elbow and the chimney is flush with the top of the mini-keg, continue packing in the insulation material until you reach the top.
Now you will need to find a stove grate or a rack of some sort to place on the top of your stove so that you can steady a pot above the chimney. Luckily, I have an old gas stove in my apartment, so I just used a grate from that. Once you have a grate, you are ready to fire up your stove and cook your next meal.

The cooking process is quite simple. Feed small pieces of wood into the base of the stove and light them on fire. Place whatever you are cooking in a small pot on the rack above the chimney. Continue to fuel the fire for as long as necessary. Eventually, your meal will be ready to eat.
One thing I noticed about this design was that the inside of the stove pipe elbow didn’t really have a nice, even surface on which to place wood, so I folded up a large section of aluminum foil and used it to line the bottom of the stove pipe. It seemed to work pretty well; however, you might have an even better solution for this minor design flaw.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

famous casseroles

Hello there. I finished another Hot Virus mini-disc. It's part 2 (of 2) of a little noise adventure that I call Science. This one is better than the first one, I think. It consists of 7 short tracks of experimental noise melodies for your eardrums and heartbeats. I mostly used my guitar and a micro-synthesizer to make these freakouts and mellow-outs. A few other random soundbites are included. I believe it's a little over 20 minutes long, so it won't be a huge waste of your life if you listen to it once or twice. If you want a copy, send 2 or 3 bucks to the following address. If you want both parts, send 5 bucks or so. I also accept trades of things like mix CD's, mix tapes, Meow mix, etc. Write soon. Or don't.

Dan Murphy
PO Box 363
Edwardsville IL 62025

paypal payments go here:

Saturday, January 01, 2011

"keep it up, keep it real, and keep it punk"

If 2009 was my banner year, then 2010 was my bummer year. At times it felt as if the forces of darkness were conspiring against me, dead set on destroying me. However, I realize that the outward expression of this malfeasance was mostly non-existent (except for a few obvious exceptions which I won’t go into here). The majority of the devil’s work (whatever that means) was in my head, and it was rough for a while. Luckily, during the last few weeks of the year, things started to look a bit more promising, and I started feeling a bit more hopeful. I realize that my wallowing was mostly unwarranted. I live a good life. It’s the dim future that I worry about. At least, I've convinced myself that it’s dim. I can’t really know for sure until it gets here. I mean I’m trying to build something better, it’s just that I’m not really sure how well it’s going, and I won’t really know until I’m released from the clutches of academia and spat out into the world to fend for myself. The problem is that I constantly feel like I’m flailing towards disaster, hovering on the brink of collapse, standing at the edge of destruction, marching towards the precipice of the apocalypse, biding my time until the rapture is here and there is no more comfort left. Children of a few decades ago had nuclear annihilation to fear. Children of today instead fear poverty, joblessness, and the prospects of a polluted home planet, depleted of its resources by a blind and bullheaded populace. In other words, no future (or so it seems). But I don’t really want to wear you down with all that; after all, it’s the New Year and you’re probably looking for positivity and encouragement. So, even though all years can’t be winners, here’s hoping that 2011 is. We all really need it, I’m sure. As far as New Year’s resolutions go, I don’t usually take that sort of thing too seriously, but if I have to resolve to do something than I will just say that I resolve to listen to considerable amounts of punk rock and to smash my head with my skateboard because that’s the only thing that feels sane to me right now.

"All you need is the Ramones
No one's home but I don't feel alone
When I got the Undertones"
-The Queers