Saturday, September 18, 2021

Episode 104 - Almost Moving Backwards

In this episode I play my album "Almost Moving Backwards" in its entirety and talk over it so you can't really enjoy it. I talk about the influences on the album and cover some personal stuff too. IF this type of episode isn't your thing, we'll be back to normal next week. But in the meantime, I hope you have fun with it. Oh, and there are more photos on the blog than I said there would be. So that's cool. Remember to e-mail me your questions and comments at Here's the player:

You can download the album here:

Here's how the time breaks down:

  • 0:00 - Intro
    • Drink along with Derek! - 2:25
    • Billie Eilish follow-up; and e-mail from D.F.
  • 8:53 - Almost Moving Backwards Commentary
    • Live Your Life - 8:53
    • Then & Again - 12:40
    • Rebecca - 18:41
    • After the Storm - 23:22
    • Every Day - 25:41
    • Everybody's Wrong - 29:43
    • Some People Never Change - 24:17
    • Another Protest Song - 36:50
    • Danielle - 40:25
    • Heaven Knows - 44:53
    • Those Things - 50:51
    • Futile - 53:44
  • 58:04 - Outro
And here's a bunch of photos and words and things...
Here's your cover photo. A little more literally than usual this time! Notice that little rectangle in the bottom left... "Presented in Glorious Mono." That meant a lot to me. I like mono recordings, being half deaf...which you might not know about me...I'm deaf in my left ear. So mono is very cool in my book. And presents a bunch of interesting engineering challenges you might not imagine until you do it!

This is all the stuff I reference in the show, I think... I went with the Neil Young Archives (Vol 1) box set because...well...I've never posted a picture of it before. :) Also you can see my Ebow on top of the CD stack in case you'd never heard of one before I started talking about it on the show. I'll break down every CD in the pile in a little bit...keep reading...

Here's a so-so at best picture of the very nice Iron Maiden Trooper: Sun and Steel beer I was drinking during the recording. Good stuff, man. I like this better than the primary Trooper beer! I thought this photo would be arty, but instead it's just mildly confusing. Sorry. This is what it's like being with me.

This is the lyric sheet to "Every Day" that I mentioned in the show, with "For M. M." in the margin. Threw in a copy of one of his CDs just for reference. Big fan.

This is the Gretsch 12-string that I mention several times throughout the recording. This was my 40th birthday guitar. I've named it "Croz" after David Crosby. I like how it sounds and I like how it feels to play. It's a great guitar and you can hear it all over this record.

I also referenced this guitar a couple times. This is my Grandpa's old Gibson. It's not worth anything to anyone but me. (And probably also my dad and brother.) I love having this guitar around as much as I love the sound of it.

I talked about these books during the song "Rebecca." That copy of the titular novel is the first copy I bought in 2000-something... It's weathered a lot and manages to still look pretty clean. I take care of my books. Not like YOU...probably... The other book is Tatiana de Rosnay's "Manderley Forever" which is a biography on Daphne du Maurier. Also great...but in a different way.

So now we're into the albums in the photo. I boiled all of the Neil Young down into just one album in "Prairie Wind," which is one of my favorites of Neil's catalogue. Then there's also Jason Isbell's "Southeastern," Drive-By Truckers "Decoration Day"--one of my all-time favorite records that absolutely changed my life--and Pearl Jam's "Backspacer," which had a lot more to do with "Heaven Knows" than you might think.

Here are a few, with one I didn't mention on the show--so we'll start there... The Hold Steady's "Heaven is Whenever" is a personal favorite and I can't believe that I forgot to mention it as an influence on this album. But at least it made it to the blog... Following that is Son Volt's "Trace," a formative album of the "alt-country" genre that was big news in my high school. Also an Uncle Tupelo anthology that'll do the job for most of you, even though every album is great...and the Jawhawks' "Rainy Day Music," which is a real gem from the early 2000s and informed a lot of the "clean" sounds on this record.

This is a slightly weirder pile, but it get's downright strange after this... Like of this group, you can still see it...but the next picture will make you question if I even know my own influences. Anyway...this group is Mark Lanegan's "Field Songs," Paul Westerberg's "Suicaine Gratifaction," the Bottle Rockets' "South Broadway Athletic Club" (which I ALSO forgot to mention in the episode!) and J Mascis' "Tied to a Star." I feel like I've talked them all to death at one point or I'll just leave it at that.

See? It's getting weird now. If you listen to the episode you get a little bit of justification on each one of these, though. And this isn't even the weirdest grouping. But in this pic, we've got Rufus Wainwright's "Release the Stars" (my favorite Rufus record), Lou Reed's "Ecstasy" (you'll notice that mine was meant to be a promotional copy...which means nothing), Amanda Palmer's "There Will Be No Intermission," and David Bowie's "Hunky Dory" which I feel like is a really underrated album in the Bowie discography.

This set of albums is a little more sensible...but there's still the Floyd in there that probably would make a couple people scratch their heads... Anyway, this group is... Pink Floyd's "The Wall," Pete Townshend's "Live" (and I'm sure several of those other words mean something, but they might be's a great live album that HUGELY influenced me in the early 00s and for some reason I have three CD copies of it and I'm unwilling to part with any of them), The Who's "Quadrophenia" (my all-time favorite album), and The Byrds' "Greatest Hits," mostly because I just KEPT saying "Byrds" during the 12 string parts.

And this picture makes absolutely no sense. Most of them are lyrical references in "Then & Again," but I'd be lying if I said any one of these bands isn't just ALWAYS part of my consciousness. This photo features The RAMONES first album, Queensryche's "Empire," Dream Theater's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence," Rush's "Test for Echo" (which honestly was just grabbed at random--I was aiming for "Counterparts"), and Van Halen's mid-90s "live" album "Live: Right Here, Right Now." Which was almost entirely re-recorded in the studio according to Sammy Hagar...but I still love it a lot.

Also here are the YouTube links "D.F." provided for me, that I mentioned...  Billie Eilish in her live glory!
And that's it!

As always, thanks for your support, Checkmates!

Rest in peace, Norm Macdonald

 I forgot to post this here when I uploaded it... This is a recording direct to my phone on the day comedian Norm Macdonald passed away. This was off the top of my head and just kind of spit out at random because I had to say SOMETHING. There's probably a segment in an upcoming episode about it, too...maybe...I don't know...we'll see... But I wanted to at least get out some thoughts. He was...just the best.  Please give it a listen.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Episode 103 - I Don't Know Words

This episode sees me struggle to pronounce things more than usual while talking about Billie Eilish, Japanese Breakfast, Iron Maiden, The Grand Tour, and more! I had fun, anyway! Maybe you will also!

E-mail me with you questions and objections at!

Here's the player:

Here's how the time shakes out:

  • 0:00 - Intro, including a mention of the passing of Daffney Unger.
  • 17:27 - Music Break - Born In This Town
  • 17:57 - Music Stuff!
    • Billie Eilish - 23:06
    • Japanese Breakfast - 29:21
    • Iron Maiden - 35:23
  • 47:32 - Music Break - Lectio Divina
  • 48:02 - Outro and more!
    • Talk of The Grand Tour - 48:38
    • Talking about sushi for some reason - 55:13
    • Next time on Empty Checking! - 59:32
And here are a few pictures--not a ton this time, but whatever!
Here's the cover photo.

I've become your weird old friend who suddenly likes Billie Eilish. Listen to the show to find out how!

Japanese Breakfast fell into my life from out of nowhere. Listen to the episode to find out how on that, too!

There's a new Iron Maiden album. So all is well!

This is the inside art of the Maiden album. See what I mean? THIS should've been the cover!

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Non-Episode: Rest in Peace Daffney Unger

I uploaded my thoughts on the death of pro-wrestler (WCW/TNA/Shimmer/etc) Daffney Unger. I don't want to promote this as an "episode" but I do hope some people will listen to it. Fair/Trigger warning: This upload contains discussion of depression and suicide. Daffney died apparently at her own hand, and I was in the unfortunate position of more or less seeing what served as her suicide note...

This episode also includes me crying. I'm not going to hide that. It's there. I needed to talk about this. I need others to hear it. But more importantly, the world lost someone who was fucking COOL. And I'm heartbroken over it. So this upload is I guess kind of a tribute...but it's also marching orders...and they're the same marching orders that I give at the end of every show...

Be good to each other.
Be good to yourselves.
Forgive each other.
Forgive yourselves.

And please...fuck...PLEASE if you need help, get help.

Here's the player. Please take it to heart.

And remember, if nobody else says it to you, I will... I love you. Keep fighting.

-Uncle Derek

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Episode 102 - Mostly Musical Musings

This was supposed to be up yesterday but I found myself a little under the weather (not COVID). So it's up now. Hurrah! In this episode I talk about a bunch of stuff that's been on my mind from the world of music. I also drink too much Sherry and get really angry at Eric Clapton. (There's maybe a minor trigger warning, as I point out that Eric volunteered the information that he raped his first wife in an interview from 1999--y'know...the one he wrote "Wonderful Tonight" about...) But otherwise it's fun!

E-mail me with your questions and comments at and maybe I'll read whatever name you provide to me on the air sometime if I feel like it!

Here's the player:

Here's the breakdown:

  • 0:00 - Intro, including a brief summary of the sad moments of the life of Kelsey Grammar and also an email from a Checkmate named Sarah!
  • 11:10 - Music Break - After the Storm
  • 11:40 - Musical Musings (Mostly!)
    • RIP Dusty Hill (14:22)
    • RIP Charlie Watts (21:23)
    • Eric Clapton is a dumb jerk (30:08)
    • Neil Young is the Anti-Clapton (37:06)
    • The Who's "Who's Next" is 50 years old! (42:28)
    • Pearl Jam's "Ten" is 30! (46:29)
    • Pearl Jam's "No Code" is also 15! (51:10)
    • And...also I talk about the Spice Girls... (52:25)
  • 55:41 - Music Break - Some People Never Change
  • 56:11 - Outro

And here are some photos--most of them include a picture of the glass of Sherry I was drinking that night:

This is undoubtedly the laziest cover shot I've ever taken.

Here's the screenshot of the ZZ Top best of in my music player...I should get at least SOMETHING in a physical product from these guys.

Here's a few Stones albums in memory of Charlie Watts. These would be among my favorites. Let it Bleed is probably at #1. But it's a tough choice.

Here's a great Eric Clapton album you shouldn't buy until after he dies.

This is the paragraph in the Wikipedia entry for Clapton that I referenced in the show. If he'd done this interview even a few years later it would've been far worse on his career. It's a pity he didn't wait.

The Anti-Clapton.

This album is 50 years old! This specific copy is 18.

These albums are respectively 30 and 15. And as I said in the show, I am very upset that I don't have a copy of the original cover. I'll fix that soon!

This album will be 25 next month, but I talked about it early, kinda!

Also this!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Episode 101 - Wes Anderson Movies (aka - Wes Anders-erverse?)

In this episode I talk about the movies of Wes Anderson. I cover all 9 that are currently out, alongside some personal stuff...etc... You know the format of the show by now! (Fair warning, spoilers abound for each movie.)

Here's the player:

Here's how the times break down.

  • 0:00 - Intro
  • 10:05 - Music Break - If I'd Known You
  • 10:32 - General Comments on Wes Anderson and how I became a fan.
  • 22:36 - Bottle Rocket
  • 26:24 - Rushmore
  • 32:17 - The Royal Tenenbaums
  • 40:25 - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  • 48:47 - The Darjeeling Limited
  • 53:44 - Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • 57:47 - Moonrise Kingdom
  • 1:02:26 - The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • 1:10:00 - Isle of Dogs - And a side discussion of Asian representation.
  • 1:29:53 - Final Thoughts on Wes Anderson
  • 1:33:32 - Music Break - Heaven Knows
  • 1:34:03 - Outro

And here's a metric shit-ton of photos! Most of these movies are Criterion Collection BluRays, so there's a ton of beautiful stuff to show off from cover photos to cool inserts and sometimes even posters. I've kept it as minimal as I can, but it's still a LOT!

Here's the cover photo, for your collection.

The movies in chronological order.

...but this is the order I watched them in, and I liked how it balanced out.

This is a screenshot of the BluRay covers with post-it notes on them. Each post-it contains a few subjects I wanted to talk about pertinent to each movie. I took photos so I'd have access to my notes when I wasn't in my house in case I had a random thought...and the photos in my gallery looked kinda Wes Anderson-ish in this layout. Thought it looked cool, so I'm sharing.

Anderson's first movie. Not my favorite...but it's in my collection!

This is the insert from Bottle Rocket. They matched it to the notebook Owen Wilson's character uses in the movie and it's laid out to mirror scenes and themes in the picture. Criterion BluRays are always top-notch for fan-service.

Rushmore is probably one of Anderson's better-known flicks. And for good reason!

This packaging is a little more involved with a booklet outlaying stuff on the DVD and giving cast lists and whatnot, but also a big poster that's kind of a map or guide to significant stuff in the film. Fun stuff!

The movie Gene Hackman hated doing that made everybody else hate Gene Hackman...depending on who you talk to about it, anyway!

This is similar to the above with a booklet that has an essay in it and a different booklet that's got fun references to the movie and stuff. Physical products are always better than digital, but even more so when the packaging is fun.

The Life Aquatic might be Anderson's best known movie and one of the more beloved ones. And I loved it too!

This booklet is a little more dimple, but what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in tone. It LOOKS really pretty and has little sketches that remind you of stuff from the movie. Even when they keep it simple, Criterion does it nice.

Another movie! I'd not heard of this one before I undertook watching everything. It wasn't my favorite of the bunch and reminded me a lot of Bottle Rocket. But it was better than Bottle Rocket.

This was also a simple booklet, but designed to match the movie's themes, with the cover matching the print of the luggage the characters carry throughout the movie. Cool stuff!

Anderson's first animated feature. It's stop-motion, so it looks a little different and other-worldly as compared to Pixar stuff or whatever, and that's part of the charm to me.

This looks like another simple booklet, and in many ways it is...but...

...look how THICK this booklet is! Crazy amount of info to paw through, and that's the kind of thing I love!

Moonrise Kingdom's cover might make anybody who doesn't know the movie overlook it...You might even miss the title completely--much like you could also miss it in the movie. But the movie itself is great.

...and there is a TON of stuff in this case! Including a staged "troop picture" of the kids/counselors in the cast, and a map, and cool cast watercolors, etc... Really next-level packaging on this on!

My gateway into Anderson's work. The cover does a good job of capturing the look of the picture--colorful but grimy. Big fan of the look of Anderson's flicks in particular.

And there's a ton of stuff in THIS package too! I haven't even gotten through 1/10th of it!

Anderson's most recent currently available movie. Only one that isn't in the Criterion Collection yet. Another stop-motion animated piece. A story of a boy and his dog. I also spend some time in the segment on this movie talking about race and Asian if you haven't heard enough pasty white guys talking about that lately, I've got you covered.

This not being a Criterion release, the extras are minimal, but given the themes in the movie, I thought it was nice that they included an ad for the Best Friends Animal Society in the case.

I also dug that if you take the cover out of the DVD case, you get a poster that's featured in the movie. It's cute and a good idea for at least a little something extra in a standard release.

Oh yeah! and here's the Life Aquatic Studio Sessions CD that I mentioned! The artist is Seu Jorge. Beautiful, Portuguese versions of several David Bowie songs. What's not to love?