Friday, December 26, 2008

On the second day of Christmas...

It's probably apparent that I have chosen to observe Hogswatch rather than Christmas this year, but I simply must share my favorite Christmas song of all time. Today, on the second day of Christmas, I invite you to enjoy The Twelve Days of Christmas by Bob and Doug McKenzie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bailouts

*Note*
For this entire post, when I write "compensation", "income", "payment" or anything similar, I mean salary, bonuses, severance pay, incentives, dividends, stock options, or any other convoluted manner those rich bastards can come up with which ultimately refers to how much money they are making.

The economy is in the crapper. The federal government is throwing huge sums of our cash at rich bastards, but what's in it for us? Where is my bailout? Where is your bailout? Where is all that money going? "We choose not to disclose that information." Someone help me, please.

It appears that our government is going to throw money at all sorts of rich bastards in order to save our "cratering" economy. Most of us have no say in the matter, but, given the fact that these bailouts seem to be a foregone conclusion, here is what I would like to see happen:

1) Any corporation on the receiving end of federal bailout funds shall not pay any CEO, or any other employee, more than $100,000 between now and 12/31/09. Should anyone on the payroll of the aforementioned bailed-out corporation receive income from any other source, their compensation from the bailed-out corporation shall be reduced by the amount received from those other sources.

2) No CEO or other employee shall be paid more than five times the amount earned by any other employee. (Let's just say the lowest paid employee earns $30,000 in 2009. No one, including the CEO [reduced for income/dividends/etc from any other source] could receive more than $150,000. "But wait!" cry the CEOs. "I could never live on $150,000/year!" Deal with it. Ask the employee who is earning $30,000/year how he/she manages. Maybe you'll learn something.)

3) All existing unions must be recognized, and employees shall form a union should a union not already exist.

4) Layoffs and/or decreases in the number of unionized employees shall result in reduced CEO compensation down to and/or below the wage paid the lowest paid employee, according to a formula as yet to be devised. (In other words, a CEO can end up earning less than the lowest paid employee if he or she totally screws things up. Waah, waah, waah.)

Okay, all you free-market trolls, have at it. I'm sure that my ideas reek of socialism and the end of the universe. As if we're not all being flushed down the toilet already.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Time for some yoga.

I saw this at Sorghum Crow's General Store. I thought it was too good not to post here as well. I've seen Ms. Stiles' yoga video for Sarah Palin, but this one was new to me. Enjoy the video, and when you're finished, skip on over to Sorghum Crow's blog.

Introducing...

I'd like to introduce all my readers (all four of you, but it's about quantity not quality, right? Wait a minute, let me think about that... oh, the heck with it.)


Start again...

Introducing (drum roll, please...) The Hum of the Smoke Machine! So far, this new blog by Singing Bear appears to be mostly about music. There is a lot of interesting stuff for your perusal, and I expect there is more to come. So, please take some time to check out The Hum of the Smoke Machine. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice! Here are some wintry photos from last Friday after we got about a foot of snow.


In this photo, I'm looking for a place to put the snow that has my car immobilized. The darned plow could have plowed the snow toward the other side of the street where there is no parking, making it easier for people to shovel out, but no, they have to bury all the cars. I'm pretty sure they do it on purpose. It's two days later, residents have moved their cars to other streets that have been plowed clear, and they still haven't plowed away all the mountains of snow on our little street that are the result of having to dig the cars out. I think they're going to wait until people start parking on this street again so they can bury us all once more.
(Photo: Ms. Geranium)


Ms. Geranium using a shovel that isn't her not-so-trusty snow shovel (the stupid piece-of-crap plastic handle broke off of her shovel of choice.)


Sparkly Seacow questioning the legality of child labor, the valiant Molly at her side.
(Photo: Ms. Geranium)


Jen, our neighbor. Why aren't her kids shoveling?


Who can resist drawing in the snow? Certainly not Ms. Geranium.


Nor I.


Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Excuse me, I think I'm going to be sick...

Seriously, this made me come awfully close to blowing chow all over my keyboard. Watch it if you dare... and if Blogger is keeping you from experiencing the horror in widescreen, or it loads super slowly, double click on it for extra barfaliciousness!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oopsies!

This just in... astronomers determine Christmas should really be on June 17. Using software to reconstruct the positions of heavenly bodies, they found that on June 17, 2 B.C., Venus and Jupiter lined up in such a way that from Earth, they would have appeared as a single, very bright star. In other words, Jesus was born two years Before Christ. Now, I call that a miracle. Of course, if you're one of those wacky Christians that believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the earth is only 6,000 years old, you probably won't believe those god-hatin' astronomers, either. Read about it here.

Kind of makes you wonder if Wal-Mart and their ilk will try to find a way to make June 17 an excuse to get people to buy lots of useless crap, I mean consumer goods.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Johnny Clegg

My lovely and talented wife, Ms. Geranium (a.k.a. Luminiferous Ether, a.k.a. Suzy) sort of went on a Johnny Clegg jag a few days ago, which brought back a lot of memories. One of the most amazing concerts I've ever experienced was Johnny Clegg and Savuka on Halloween Night, 1990, at The Barrymore Theater in Madison, WI. The combination of incredible musicians performing great songs at a high energy level, and great sound in the house (which, unfortunately, from my experience at that particular venue, turns out to be a rare occurrence) was incredible in and of itself. Add to it the fact that much of the audience was in costume and dancing, and you have an extra element of atmosphere on top of the performance. It was an other-worldly experience.

For anyone who is not familiar with Johnny Clegg and his bands Juluka and Savuka, I feel it's important to be aware that, while Clegg was born in England, he grew up mostly in South Africa. As the child of a single mother, he was often left to his own devices and spent much of his time with local Zulu musicians and dancers. People frequently mistakenly assume that, like Paul Simon, he borrowed from South African music. The truth of the matter is that he is South African and incorporated other styles, such as Celtic folk and western pop, into the traditional music he grew up playing. Clegg ended up in prison for playing in a mixed-race group. Juluka was banned from South African radio stations for being too political and for being multiracial. Ironically (and stupidly), they also found themselves blacklisted in Europe for playing in South Africa, their home country, at a time when musicians around the world were boycotting South Africa.

The first recording I ever heard by Johnny Clegg was Scatterlings, the first Juluka album to be released in the U.S. I was working in a record store and it was a time when "World Music" wasn't even a category. Apparently, Juluka was all the rage in Europe and Warner Brothers Records in the U.S. had acquired the rights to the group. Scatterlings was a minor hit with the more adventurous record buyers and was followed by a second album, Stand Your Ground, the sales of which were disappointing to the good people at Warner Brothers. I never even had the opportunity to hear that one at the time. Nothing was heard from Juluka on the U.S. scene after that. I assumed they were gone, done for, and they disappeared from my radar. When Johnny Clegg formed Savuka, I didn't immediately make the connection between Juluka and Savuka. Shadow Man was the first Savuka album I heard, and it didn't occur to me that it was the same vocalist, guitarist and bandleader as Juluka until I went back and listened to Third World Child, and thought, "hey, they're doing a Juluka song!" Doh! I loved both albums and when they went on tour in 1989, I was quite pleased to have the chance to see them. They played at a place called Alpine Valley (the same place where Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash), opening for Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan. Ms. Geranium and I left during Tracy Chapman's set (missing Dylan completely - how many people can say, or admit, that they went to a Bob Dylan concert and left before he even went on stage?) so we could beat the rush getting out of the parking lot and get home to relieve our babysitter.

While the music, itself, is worth the cost of an album, his lyrics also bear listening to. Songs about injustice, history, loss, death, suffering, love and, yes, even soccer. I sometimes reflect on how inaccurate the media's depiction of real life actually is and how it creates unreasonable expectations in so many people's minds. Thus, I found the chorus in Don't Walk Away to be rather meaningful:

This is not a movie
Not a dream
What you see is what you get
This is not a movie
It's for real
You have to face it in the end -
The hard side of love


(Just ask Ms. Geranium about the hard side of love. Uff da! The woman is a saint.)

Speaking as a bass player, I've seen a lot of the famous hotshots. I've seen Jaco, I've seen Chris Squire, Flea and Billy Sheehan. Great players, from a technical point of view, but I have only seen a few bassists that have really grabbed me. Richard Davis is one. Percy Jones (of Brand X and Brian Eno, among others) John Wetton (King Crimson, 1973 - 1975) and Mark Abraham (Enter The Haggis) are three others that come to mind. Savuka's Solly Letwaba would be in that group, and not the least of them. Letwaba died in 2000 at the age of 36 of complications resulting from tuberculosis. He was one of the most exciting bassists I've seen. His death is a great loss to his family and the music world. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see him play not just once, but three times.

Unfortunately, Solly Letwaba is not the only member of Savuka to die an untimely death. Percussionist and dancer Dudu Mntowaziwayo Ndlovu (Dudu Zulu) "...was assassinated in a very convoluted conspiracy relating to a taxi war that unfolded in his area in 1993. The killers were never brought to book and of the five people who were present when the shots were fired at night outside his homestead, four have subsequently been killed in tribal feuds and taxi wars." [Quote from an interview with Johnny Clegg posted on his website.]

Clegg, too, has been a target of violence in his home country. He still lives in South Africa and has invested much of his money in working to provide clean water for all in addition to an organization which recycles computer components. He doesn't seem to tour the U.S. very much any more, but plays to packed arenas in South Africa and Europe.

Despite the fact that Clegg, his band mates and their country have seen and experienced loss and suffering beyond the imagining of most people, their music is still full of life and joy. Here is a clip from the tour on which I first saw them. I remember them playing this song (Don't Walk Away) and being blown away by the fact that, among other things, the dude could sing while executing some rather physically demanding dance moves. Enjoy.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Memingless Mean

Taggged by Luminiferous Ether with the Meminingless, err, Mannigles, ummm, Meaningless Meme. Hah! I managed to get it right on only the third try! Here we go... The Meaningless Meme!

1. Five names you go by:
a) Ed
b) Daddy
c) Papi (or maybe it's spelled poppi, I'll have to ask Cinderbelle.)
d) Dog Park Guy (most often spoken in dog).
e) Sir (a sure sign you're getting old.)

2. Three things you are wearing right now:
a) My moose hat (okay, I admit I put it on just now so I could say I'm wearing it.)
b) Flannel lined jeans (hey, it's Wisconsin!)
c) Sea horse print boxers.

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
a) Somebody else's bank account.
b) To think of one other thing.

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:
a) Jess Wundrun
b) Gomonkeygo
c) Pagan Sphinx

5. Two things you did last night:
a) Played a gig with The Reptile Palace Orchestra at the Mabel Tainter Center For the Arts in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
b) Had a post-gig soak in the hot tub in the Menomonie Country Inn & Suites.

6. Two things you ate today:
a) An omelet at the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI.
b) Roasted, salted cashews from the Menomonie Food Co-op.

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
a) Sparkly Seacow's friend Violet's mom Felina.
b) Some guy named Todd who called to talk to my lovely and talented wife.

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
a) Work on the damned bathroom, unless something else comes up.
b) Take the dog to the bark park.

9. Two longest car rides:
a) Madison, WI to Key West, FL with a 12-year old and a five-year old.
b) The five-minute drive to the bark park with an excited dog moaning and barking in my ear.

10. Two of your favorite beverages:
a) Beer. Particularly a nice, bitter IPA.
b) Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

And finally, a clip from a favorite movie.
Since vampire films seem to be all the rage right now, here's a clip from my all-time favorite in the genre: Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre.




Friday, November 28, 2008

Appliances-SFB: Rockin' in the Free World

We didn't do very much material by other people, but here's our interpretation of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World. If you weren't aware of the fact that Young wrote this song during George H. W. Bush's term in office, you might think it applied to George W. Bush's reign of terror. Not much difference between the two. Only such catch phrases as
"a thousand points of light" and "a kinder, gentler..." differentiate one Bush from the other. I suppose one might also argue that HW was mean and smart while W is mean and stupid.

Since it's the day after Thanksgiving as I post this, and people are prone to talk about those things for which they are thankful at this time of year, I'll just say that I'm thankful that soon (but not soon enough) we'll be seeing the backside of the worst and most criminal president this country has ever had. Here's to hoping he ends up doing prison time for his crimes.

On this song, William Siebecker takes over on vocals while Tom Laskin joins in on guitar. I particularly enjoy Siebecker's vocal improvisations on the last verse and chorus. I also find it a bit frustrating that, in all these videos, Siebecker's guitar is too low in the mix and it's hard to hear what he's doing much of the time. I always felt he was (and still is) a brilliant guitarist and ought to be mixed up front. Oh, well. It was a low budget undertaking (like, free) and I'm glad that this document of the group exists, so I shouldn't complain.

A great song by a great songwriter. I don't know if we did it justice, but here it is.

video

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Appliances-SFB: Stop F#ckin' Around

Warning! Although most of our songs were obscenity free, this one is not. NSFW! At least, not if the F-word is a problem. No nudity or other potentially offensive images, though. (Sorry)

This song seemed to be a real hit with most of our audience. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was so sensitive. I don't know.

video


Friday, November 14, 2008

Appliances-SFB: #2

Here's the second installment of the Appliances-SFB which is called, coincidentally, "#2".

One thing that might not be readily apparent to people who are new to A-SFB is that, in my opinion, our music was full of humor. That's not to say that we considered ourselves to be a joke, but we also didn't take ourselves, or the genre, very seriously. At the time, there were an awful lot of bands out there who appeared to be quite serious about the whole "rock" or "punk rock" image. White pancake makeup with black eye-liner, or whatever. Occasionally we would "dress up" (I believe there are some photos of me in leopard spotted stretch pants floating around somewhere- $5 on the clearance rack in the women's department at some store or other - how could I resist?), but it was in the spirit of having a good time rather than trying to be particularly cool. Don't get me wrong, we liked to "Rock", but we were also aware of, and enjoyed, the silliness of it all. I, for one, never felt particularly cool; I always felt like an outsider even among the people for whom we played, but I enjoyed playing and the people who came to hear us were almost always nice people.

I tried to use iMovie's built-in graphic EQ to bring the bass down and accentuate the guitar and keyboards. I think it helped some, but there's only so much you can do to fix a stereo mix, particularly when you're just throwing a file into some software and clicking on stuff, hoping for the best. It seems to me that some video quality was lost in the process, and I don't know what the explanation is, aside from the fact that I've read that iMovie is a "lossy" video format, whatever that means. I'll have to look into that.

So, here's A-SFB playing #2. Once again, the performance is not perfect, and I only have myself to blame for that, but I always tried to play spontaneously. If I had written parts that I played the same way every time, or if I was a better musician, maybe I wouldn't have made so many mistakes, but at the time I felt that it was better if I didn't know exactly what I would do on any given song on any given day. There was a basic structure to a song and I tended to try to play around with that structure without ever having my part set in stone. That's still pretty much my approach to playing music, for better or worse.

video

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Luminiferous Ether posted this already, but it bears reposting here. Huffington Post had an advertisement for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. The Mormon Church). Since the Mormons were instrumental in the passing of California's Proposition 8 and most, if not all, of the writers for Huffington Post opposed Proposition 8, it seems rather odd that they would post ads for the LDS. If this bothers you, you can let them know here:

james@huffingtonpost.com

I'd like to see them get buried with complaints.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Help! I'm in the wrong Trouser Leg!

I suppose I should explain myself. It makes my head hurt, and I will undoubtedly fail most heinously, but here goes.

Some scientists believe that everything that can happen actually does happen*. Terry Pratchett refers to this as the Trouser Legs of Time. There is a moment when reality splits and one reality heads down one leg while the other heads down the other leg. For instance, let's say you are the Vice President of the United States and you go on a hunting outing with a buddy or two. Whoosh! A bird flies up out of the brush, you aim your gun and... one of your hunting buddies has gone and put his face between your gun and the bird. Two things can happen here; you empty both barrels into your buddy's face, or you hold your fire and don't shoot your buddy in the face. These scientists I was talking about earlier claim that both things actually happen, but the universe splits at this point and becomes two universes. In universe A you have just made hamburger out of your hunting partner's face and created numerous jobs in the stand-up comedy industry. In universe B, you held your fire, didn't shoot your pal in the face, and now all those would-be stand-up comedians are standing in line at soup kitchens. These Trouser Legs of Time occur an infinite number of times, creating an infinite number of universes:

The Birth of a Universe.
Trouser Leg A) I think another drink would be a very good idea, and I bet wearing my underpants on my head would make a daring fashion statement.
**OR**
Trouser Leg B) Thanks, but I'll pass on that drink and go home.
Shazam! Instant universe.

Somehow, I seem to have found myself in the wrong Trouser Leg. One day, I was living in a universe where all Republicans and quite a few Democrats seemed to be enamoured of that Trouser Leg's version of the President of the United States, whose name is George W. Bush. (In my home Trouser Leg, Bush came to power by stealing not one, but two elections. Hard to believe, but that's what really happened.) Bush could do anything he wanted and Republicans and Democrats did what he said. Yes, it's true. "President" Bush would tell the country we had to go to war, and Republicans and Democrats alike would reply "When can we start?" Rape the Constitution using something cynically called The Patriot Act? Yes, Mr. President! Require public schools to spend money on federally mandated testing while withholding funding to pay for the tests and cynically calling it No Child Left Behind? Yes, Mr. President! There are even more examples, but you probably wouldn't believe me.

Then, one day, I realized that the universe had changed, but I can't say exactly when it happened. I started to notice that both Democrats and Republicans were in agreement that this Trouser Leg's President Bush was The Worst President Ever, and they've always believed that. None of them ever supported Bush. They blame him for getting the country into an illegal war through lies and misinformation. They hold him responsible for policies that created our current economic crisis. The Republican candidate for president goes to great lengths to point out that he is a maverick who has opposed, not only his own party, but, by golly, also, too, President Bush, at every turn. 'Cuz he's a maverick and he's surrounded himself with a team of mavericks. (In my own Trouser Leg, this same candidate, in his own words, agreed with Bush over 90% of the time! It's true!) I hope that things turn out better in this Trouser Leg than they do in my own. When I was still there, the future was looking pretty grim.

So, you see, I can only conclude that, somehow, I jumped from one Trouser Leg to another. If I ever figure out how I did it, there may be a Nobel Prize in my future. It probably has something to do with Quantum.

The Turtle Moves.
(Apologies to Terry Pratchett.)

* Would that be an awesome job, or what?
Scientist A: Hey, man, what if, like, everything that can happen, actually, like, you know, does happen? Like, we could take your cat and put it in this box, and, like, until you open the box, it would be, like, alive and dead at, like, the same time?
Scientist B: Whoa!! Dude!!! And, like, reality would, like, split into two different universes that exist, like, simultaneously, you know? Only, it wouldn't happen until we, like, opened the box?  'Cause of Quantum, you know? That's crazy!!!!! Pass me that joint!
Scientist C: Dude, you look, like, totally awesome with those underpants on your head!!!!! Pass me that joint!!!!!
Cat D: MMROWWWRRR! (Translation: How's this for a new universe; you morons quit trying to put me in that box and feed me before I shred you to ribbons?)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Appliances-SFB: For Kids' Sake

As any regular readers of this blog are undoubtedly aware, I once played in a group called Appliances-SFB. For me, playing with A-SFB was an experience unlike any I've had before or since. Once drummer Meredith Young joined the group, we played with the same personnel for, I think, 16 years or so. When a group plays together for that long, it develops a level of familiarity which can resemble musical telepathy. Every show we played was an experiment in chaos. Sometimes we were able to control the chaos, sometimes the chaos controlled us, and in those cases we would follow it and see where it led. The end result was sometimes brilliant, sometimes not, but it was always an adventure and an awful lot of fun. Well, whatever, it's all ancient history now.

I recently acquired a copy, on DVD, of a video made in, I think, 1991 for the show Alternative Playground on Madison's public access station, WYOU. I thought it would be easy to edit it into individual songs and post it on the intertubes. Hah! I assumed it would be easy to find people who knew how to perform such feats of digital wizardry. Hah! I had no idea how difficult it would be to figure out how to transfer from DVD to any other video format. At first, I didn't even know it was necessary. In the absence of actual instruction, advice or information, through trial and error I have finally, I hope, succeeded in getting one song edited and encoded in a format where the audio and video will actually play in sync once uploaded. (From the previous sentence, you might surmise that other attempts were made which were less than successful. If so, you are correct.)

It's not the best performance, and I'm not entirely sure what the videographers were attempting to achieve, but here it is in all its imperfect glory. I hope to post other songs from this session as I get around to editing and encoding them for the intertubes. For the time being, this is, as far as I know, an Enriched Geranium exclusive. I hope you enjoy Appliances-SFB playing For Kids' Sake.

[Note: Appliances-SFB was a LOUD rock band. As such, it simply isn't possible to achieve anything remotely resembling the live experience unless you play this loud. Very loud. Ear-splittingly, chest-thumpingly, wall-rattlingly loud. I know, we're all older than we used to be (funny how that works) so don't hurt yourselves. Since this recording was mixed for television back in the days before home entertainment centers with surround sound and stuff were very common, if you listen to it through a good sound system, the bass will be louder than it was intended to be relative to the other instruments. Using the vocals as a reference point, I think the bass is too loud, the drums just about right and the guitar and keyboards too quiet, but, unfortunately, that can't be helped.]





Appliances-SFB are/were:
Tom Laskin: vocals
William Siebecker: guitar
Meredith Young: drums
Bill Feeny: keyboards
Ed Feeny: bass

Unfortunately, I don't know the names of all the people responsible for the making of this video. To the best of my recollection, Frank Miale was one of the producers/mixers/somethingers. There were others. My apologies to all those who are uncredited. If I find out more names, I will add them.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's baa-aaack!

It was up. It was down. Now it's up again. Enjoy it while you can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oops.

Dang. I posted a video in an attempt to lighten things up a little bit, and the video has been removed from the YouTubes. It showed Adolf Hitler and his staff planning a party. The band they had hired had to cancel. Someone on Hitler's staff hired a jazz band instead, and Hitler hates jazz. Humorous dialogue, in subtitle form, ensued. I thought it was pretty funny. At least Jess Wundrun got a chance to see it. Sorry about that.

Adolf's Party

Sorry if that last post was too much of a downer. I'm very concerned about the upcoming election and hope that if enough other people are concerned, it won't be stolen.

Now it's time for a little levity! Apparently, the following video has been making the rounds amongst jazz musicians. Thanks to my bandmate Greg for passing it on to me. Warning! Contains adult language.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

McCain will "win" the election.

I hate to say it, but McCain is going to "win" the election. At least, if you can call stealing the election winning. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear I am not. The following video gives details of how the election in 2004 was stolen as well as evidence that it is happening again. For example, early voters in West Virginia are reporting that their votes cast for Obama showed up on the computer screens as votes cast for McCain. Also included is a report of photographic evidence that in 2004, in 18 precincts in Ohio, approximately 200,000 ballots for Kerry were doctored to show votes for Bush. These ballots, despite a court order to the contrary, were later destroyed. Sarah Palin and others belittle such findings as "backward finger-pointing." Many people, particularly those who were happy with the end result (republicans) as well as those who don't want to believe such things are possible, are quick to say we should get over it and move on. As I see it, if there is definite proof, and it sounds like there is, that illegal activity took place, the responsible parties should be in prison and steps should be taken to guarantee this never happens again. Here is Mark Crispin Miller on Democracy Now! detailing some of the techniques the Republican Party is using to ensure a McCain "victory." Transcript here.



What can we do? I don't know, but maybe if you're going to be voting somewhere where they will be using computerized voting machines, you could bring a video camera with you and take some footage of the screen while you vote. Any other ideas?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mail!

Whiskeymarie had a post where she said, if people sent her their addresses, she would send them some mail. Oh, yeah, and she would sell their addresses to the CIA. I figured the CIA already knows where I live, so what the heck? I sent her my address and a few days ago this arrived in the mail.


It's one of those postcards where, when you move it around, you see two different pictures. It didn't scan all that well (I tried moving the scanner around while it was scanning, but it didn't seem to work, nor does moving your computer screen from side to side, so don't bother,) but one view says "ROCK 'N" at the top and shows a picture of Elvis standing up while singing soulfully into the mic, and the other says "ROLL" at the top and shows Elvis kneeling in a very rock 'n' roll pose, while still singing into the mic. Whiskymarie clearly put some thought into her choice of cards, seeing as I'm a musician-type, and all. Getting a piece of mail that isn't a bill or solicitation brightened up my day. Thanks, Whisky!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nick Lowe @ The Barrymore, Madison, WI, 10/12/08

Ms. Geranium and I went to see Nick Lowe last night. Third-row seats, to boot (thanks, Pam & Mike!) I enjoyed it quite a bit. I must admit, when I was younger, I didn't really appreciate Lowe's music. Tastes change, however, and I have come to believe that Nick Lowe is one of the world's greatest living song writers in addition to being a good performer. It was a real treat to see him in person. He has a gift for writing catchy, memorable songs and is a very clever lyricist. His songs about lost love, loneliness, etc, often have a humorous twist and he isn't afraid to write songs that might seem a bit creepy and twisted to some listeners (I Trained Her To Love Me, for example.) He played a number of songs I hadn't heard before and many of them caused me to chuckle. There were moments when, half a phrase away, the realization of the rhyme he was leading up to made me laugh.

Ms. Geranium pointed out that it was a little odd to watch a performer who, aside from his sneakers, was dressed like an elementary school principal (I think the effect would have been complete if he had been wearing a bow-tie.) Then he would strike a tongue-in-cheek rock 'n' roll pose.

These days, I find I particularly enjoy seeing, let's call them "mature" artists. In the case of Nick Lowe, he's been playing for a long time, doesn't have anything to prove and appears to be very comfortable with who he is. He was clearly having a good time and appeared quite relaxed. He doesn't get to these parts very often (he said the last time he was in Madison was when he was palling around with Cheap Trick, probably in the mid to late seventies) so I'm glad we had this opportunity.

A word of advice to concert goers: Try to control the impulse to clap along with your favorite songs. Unless you have a really good sense of rhythm, it usually ends up sounding pretty lame, particularly when you get off the beat.

Here are a couple of my favorite Nick Lowe songs. (I have lots of other favorites, but one can only spend so much time scanning YouTube.) First, Without Love, performed in 2007.




Now, just to contrast the new and the, umm.... not so new, here is I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, probably from the mid to late seventies.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Top 5 Myths about John McCain

I saw this on FranIAm's blog and thought it was worth trying to spread it around. It's a short little video by Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone magazine that describes what Dickinson considers to be the top 5 myths about John McCain.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A chip off the old block.

Like father, like daughter. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. A chip off the old block. Etc.


Me.



My daughter.



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Mavericky Reformer?

Learn to be a mavericky reformer in 13 minutes and 26 seconds. Just watch this video. Many of you may have already seen this at Luminiferous Ether, where I first saw it, but I figgered I'd put it up here. The more people who know about this, the better. Will the corporate "news" outlets pick up on this? I doubt it. Can you believe that anyone is actually going to vote for this guy? You betcha, 'cuz he's a maverick outsider who's gonna, also, too, reform Washington!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I tolerate you.

It's comforting to know that Sarah Palin tolerates gay people. Now people all across the country should be hugging their gay friends and acquaintances and telling them "I tolerate you!" I think I need to make a bumpersticker out of this.

Name your baby!

Try out the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. It's good for a chuckle or two. I'm Spackle Camshaft Palin. Thanks to my lovely and talented wife, Hump Gizzards Palin, for finding this in an essay by Anne Lamott on salon.com.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VP debates.

Everyone in the blog world is probably tippety-tapping away right now, or has already posted something about the debates, but I just have to put in my two cents about two things, too.


One: Aside from the question about gay marriage, which she answered directly and clearly (I didn't like her answer, nor did I like Biden's, but I give her credit for being direct) Palin never answered a single question.

Ifill (moderator): How do you intend to handle the current financial crisis?

Palin: Obama's gonna... ya know, the tax increases. John McCain's a maverick and I'm a maverick, ya know. We're both mavericks. We're talkin' about energy independence here, cuz I'm from Alaska. And the nukyular.... ya know, bipartisans on.... yer lookin' backwards again.... it's about Main Street. Ronald Reagan. We gotta, ya know, keep growin' our tax cuts. I'm a maverick and a hockey mom. And so is John McCain. Like me.


Two: When, oh when, is someone going to point out that McCain, Palin, Obama and Biden are all the recipients of ..... SOCIALIZED HEALTH CARE!!! Paid for and administered by the government, to boot! Do you think any of them would give it up in exchange for a $5,000 tax credit toward the health plan of their choice? "Gee whiz, people don't want government handlin' their health care, that would be disastrous, ya know, cuz families make the best choices." Okay, Sarah, give it up now, since we all know you don't want government intruding on your health care choices. And if I really get to choose, then I choose your health plan. You know, the socialized one you get that is administered by the government. (Actually, I'm not certain that Palin is currently benefitting from socialized health care, as I don't know how that works for the governor of Alaska. I'd be willing to bet she is, and McCain, Obama and Biden definitely are on the government plan.)

Okay. I'm done. I think I need to stop thinking about that mean, stupid Palin for a while.

Follow the money, pt 2

Posted below is an interview with Dennis Kucinich on Democracy Now! about the Wall Street bailout. He's talking about the version that failed to pass in the House on Monday. From everything I've read so far, the new version that passed in the Senate yesterday isn't any better, although it is 400-some pages long and includes somewhere around $150,000,000,000 ($150 billion) in tax cuts (but not for you or me) in addition to the $700,000,000,000 ($700 billion) in cash that they expect us to pay with our un-cut tax dollars. Grrrrrr....

Among other things, Kucinich says:

"It seems to me there's a possibility that this crisis has a little bit of manufacture to it."

Anyone surprised? Here are some other excerpts:

"It has provisions in it where it talks about helping homeowners, but when you read the fine print, you see it has language like 'may' instead of 'shall' and 'encouraging' instead of 'mandating' help for the millions of homeowners who are worried right now about whether they're going to lose their home. There's no help for them in this."

"I reject the underlying premise that we needed this bill... We haven't looked at any alternatives..."

"Well, what we have is a transfer of wealth, actually. It's a continuation of a transfer of wealth. This whole government has become nothing more than a big machine that transfers the wealth upwards with our tax policies, our energy policies, with this fiscal policies, with the war. All the wealth of the country goes from the pockets of the people into the hands of a few. This is a very dangerous moment. You know, it's the biggest amount of injection of capital by the government in a single time since the New Deal. And frankly, there is no trickle down here. There's just rewarding bad behavior."

"There's 400 economists and three Nobel Prize-winning economists who have said, 'Whoa, wait a minute! What are you doing? Why are you rushing this?' You know, this thing doesn't smell right, frankly."


"Goldman Sachs is struggling to survive. And, you know, their former chief is now the head of the US Treasury. He's in a position to be able to direct assets in a way that would help enhance his own financial standing. I mean, that's a clear conflict of interest. And, you know, that's something that needs to be said."

The biggest theft in the history of our country, that's what I say, and both Obama and McCain support it. We need to look at the basic premise of bailing out Wall Street before we decide how we're going to do it. As I understand it, in Britain, the government is nationalizing failing banks and, in the process, is acquiring both the good and the bad debt, unlike the proposal here, where the government will only be purchasing bad debt. Hmmm....

Read the full transcript here or watch video:




Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Follow the money!!!

Once again, Bush/Cheney and their cronies are using fear to take the country for, literally, all it is worth. This entire Wall Street bailout plan is nothing more than yet another ploy to divert as much money as possible from the middle and working classes to the rich friends of the Bush administration. Bush and Cheney will be leaving office soon (if we're lucky) and they want to clean out the treasury on their way out. Look at absolutely everything that Bush has done during his reign. In every single instance, every single instance, the end result has been to take tax payers' money and put it into the pockets of a) a Bush or Cheney family member, b) a Bush or Cheney family friend, c) a Bush or Cheney business associate or d) a contributor to the Bush/Cheney campaigns. Now they want to take everything that's left. If it destroys the middle and working classes in the process, that only leaves them with more power. What could be the harm in that?

Before you call me a conspiracy theorist, take a look at the facts, (yes, facts - those liberal-leaning pieces of information that cannot be disputed) and remember, any time two or more people meet in secret in order to further their own aims at the expense of others while ignoring laws, rules or plain old right and wrong, it is a conspiracy, plain and simple. It happens all the time in the workplace, business, politics, families, you name it. The right has tried, quite successfully, to equate the phrase "conspiracy theorist" with "wacko," just as they are now trying to equate "community organizer" with, I don't know - terrorist or communist or something along those lines. Even so-called progressives have bought into it; they are scared to suggest that anything could be a conspiracy for fear of being labeled "wackos."

Let's play Follow the Money™!

Fact: Look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush/Cheney regime lied about the reasons for going to war. Haliburton (Cheney's former employer) and the Carlyle Group (Papa Bush is a bigwig in this one) have made billions on the wars. Coincidence? No, I don't think so.

Follow the money!

Fact: The "No Child Left Behind" Act. Millions of dollars spent in school districts across the country on mandatory testing, yet little or no federal support to finance it. Who pays? Taxpayers. Who profits? The McGraw family of McGraw Hill fame, who sell the tests, which are required by law, to the schools for multiple millions of dollars each year, and just happen to be close friends with the Bush family. Coincidence? No, I don't think so.

Follow the money!

Fact: Remember the whole terrorist scare with the duct tape? At the time, I joked to friends and family "Who makes duct tape and is friends with the Bushes?" It turns out that what I said as a joke ended up not being funny at all. The largest seller of duct tape in the country turned out to be a mega-contributor to the Bush/Cheney campaign coffers. Coincidence? No, I don't think so.

Follow the money!

Fact: The recent crackdown on illegal immigrants is putting more and more people in prisons built with the specific purpose of incarcerating "illegals." Millions of dollars are paid by the, you guessed it, taxpayers. Who's on the receiving end? Dick Cheney's son-in-law just happens to be a mover and shaker in the business of imprisoning "illegals." Coincidence? No, I don't think so.

Follow the Money!

With the proposed bailout, CEOs of "failed" banks and corporations will continue to draw huge salaries while the US Treasury pays for their greed and their criminal behavior. Mel, Floyd and Mr. Smartypants called it "privatized profit with socialized risk." Where will all the money come from? Ultimately, you and me. Who will benefit? Rich friends of the Bush/Cheney administration. These are people who, in a just society, would be tried and imprisoned (and, as Ralph Nader said in a recent speech, if you put all these rich people in prison, an added bonus would be an improvement in prison conditions), not rewarded with more of our money. Bush wants us to throw money at them. Why? Because if we don't "bad things will happen. Be scared and do what I say!" Is it any surprise that this financial crisis should occur so close to when they leave office? Coincidence? No I don't think so.

Follow the Money! Unfortunately, this could go on and on.

Read what Michael Moore has to say on the matter. He sums it up pretty well. "Oh, no! He's a conspiracy theorist!" But, remember, just because it's a conspiracy doesn't mean it can't be true. When that kind of money is involved, it would be naïve to assume that people with that kind of power and influence aren't conspiring. If you were George Bush or Dick "Dick" Cheney and thought you could get away with legally making off with $700,000,000,000 for you and your buddies, what would you do? Give me .0001% (one ten thousandth of one percent) of that and I'd feel rich beyond my wildest dreams. Not rich enough to forget how many houses I owned, but I could easily pay off my house and buy two or three more. Remember, you have to be a power-hungry, greedy bastard with no shame to think like Bush or Cheney. They don't think like normal people. In fact, they aren't normal people and they don't care at all about normal people. They think of themselves as royalty. They believe they are who and where they are because they deserve it and the purpose of the middle and working classes is to make money for them, god's chosen. As they see it, if the masses suffer as a result, even if they die as a result, that's only what the masses deserve and just as god wills it.

How McCain is stealing the election.

It doesn't matter how stupid Sarah Palin is. It doesn't matter how well Obama does in the debates. It doesn't even seem like it's going to matter if Obama gets more votes than McCain. Thanks to Carl Rove and his "Rovebots," as Greg Palast calls them, McCain is almost certainly going to "win" the upcoming election. Why is the national media not reporting on this? Why isn't it on the front page of every newspaper in the country? Why is it not the top story on television and radio news? People need to know about this. Maybe it isn't too late, but if people don't start screaming about it, I fear nothing will stop McCain from being "our" next president.

Here's just one example: In Middleton, Wisconsin, a town just outside of Madison, the McCain campaign is mailing absentee ballot request forms to registered Democrats. Golly, that's awfully civic-minded of them. Or is it? The only problem is, the envelopes that they are including for use in requesting the aforementioned absentee ballots are addressed to the city clerk in Madison, not Middleton, and Middleton voters are not eligible to vote in Madison. I've heard this from more than one source, and it doesn't stop there. These sorts of shenanigans are taking place all across the country and no one is talking about it! Read more about it here, watch the following video of Greg Palast (sorry, it's kind of long, and the thread wanders a bit, but it's important), then call your representative, senator, and local papers. I find it to be pretty frightening.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Brain to Nowhere

Luminiferous Ether posted about the Grand Opening ceremony for our new community center. It was a really fun event with music from numerous local musicians. It's not easy to get six different groups on and off the stage quickly, but thanks, to the organizational efforts of the fabulous Lynette, who also played in one of the groups, it went incredibly smoothly. Ken Lonnquist and his group, Kenland, played a little number that I'd like to share here. In this video, Ken sings and plays guitar and the amazing Dave Adler is on piano. I've had the pleasure of playing with both of them at one time or another. Great guys. I'm afraid I can't identify the other guests in the video. Enjoy Brain to Nowhere.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Return of the Son of Shameless Self-Promotion


Just in case any one out there is interested and able, The Motor Primitives will be playing a happy-hour show at The High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI, this Tuesday, 9/23/08. We'll be hitting the stage at about 6:00 pm. We'll be followed by The Apologists. It should be a good time, so come on down! Cover charge is only $4!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sorry, stupid, stupid, stupid...


I'd like to apologize for all the politically oriented posts recently. I guess I've been getting a little carried away. Now, all of a sudden, I realized that I never got around to posting about the recent CD released by The Motor Primitives, the rock band with whom I play! What is wrong with me?

So....

The Motor Primitives have a (sort of) new CD out! It's called Classified. You should but it! Really! It rocks! If you don't believe me, ask Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein, creator of the blog Monkey Muck. Read Dr. Monkey's review here. Buy it here..., wait a minute..., I just realized I never set up Blogger to give people a way to contact me. I guess I have to figure out how to fix that. In the mean time, if you want to buy the newish CD by The Motor Primitives, you'll have to contact someone by getting the email address off of this link or leaving me a comment. Be forewarned that Classified is not available through CD Baby, as the first two CDs are. It's necessary to purchase it directly through the band or a band member. $10 (includes shipping) should cover it in the US. Maybe more overseas, but this isn't really a money making operation at this point in time. Make us an offer. Unless it seems like you're being a jerk (recommendation: don't ask for a CD with a message like this: "I think John McCain is god and I want to buy your CD for ¢30 even though I could afford to pay a lot more, but I'm a Rich Bastard who wants to take advantage of you"), we'll probably send you a CD even if we lose money on it. Thanks, and rock on!

Very interesting...

As Ms. Geranium (a.k.a. Luminiferous Ether) mentioned in her latest post, we spent the weekend at a camp outside of scenic Richland Center, WI. It was nothing short of glorious, but you can read about that aspect of the trip here. What I would like to mention is the drive to and from Richland Center. I believe we saw upwards of ten Obama/Biden signs on the drive. We saw only one (that is correct, one, (1), uno, a single, solitary) McCain sign. Now, I have to point out that the road from Madison to Richland Center doesn't go through the absolute heart of rural Wisconsin. It passes through a few towns that might be considered "ex-hippy" or bedroom communities. Nonetheless, this is still rural Wisconsin: mostly white, agricultural communities. This turn of events represents a striking difference from other election years. Keep in mind that this area was hit quite hard by floods earlier in the year and they have gotten very little help from FEMA. I hope that what we saw indicates that "America's Heartland" has had enough of the Bush/McCain philosophy of government. I suppose only time will tell.

Divisive vs. Verbage

McCain's supporters are saying Obama is an elitist because he's smart. They use as an example the way he pronounces the word "divisive." Look in the dictionary. Although the way Obama pronounces "divisive" is not the first pronunciation listed in my copy of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition), it is accepted as correct. When Sarah Palin said "verbage," she was, according to my copy of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition), either mispronouncing the word "verbiage" or she was using a word that does not exist. I think that makes her stupid. An idiot. Otnay ootay ightbray.

Imagine this scene: You're standing in the voting booth. There's a candidate (A) who is accused of being an elitist because he's smart. There is another candidate (B) who doesn't know how many houses he owns and, due to his medical history, has a 30% chance of dying before he completes his first term. (B)'s running mate, who has a 30% chance of becoming president if (B) wins, probably wouldn't get the same answer twice if you asked her to add two and two. She thinks Jesus rode a dinosaur! Let's see... eenie meenie minie moe...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kabile


On Wednesday and Thursday nights I had the pleasure of hearing and dancing to the group Kabile (from the village of Kabile in Thrace, Bulgaria) who are in town as part of Madison's World Music Festival. There is nothing quite like the experience of having musicians of this caliber playing for a large audience of dancers. The fine people who put on the festival do a fantastic job and bring some incredible groups to town every year. I know, we're talking (shudder) both folk music and folk dance, but don't knock it until you've tried it, I say. It was a transcendent experience. Kabile's tour schedule can be found here. I highly recommend going to hear them if they come anywhere near you. Tell them Ed, the lame tambura (pronounced "tom boo RAH", and roll that "R" sort of like you would en español) player in Madison, WI, sent you. If you're lucky, there will be some people knowledgeable in Bulgarian dance to lead you through the basics. Dance if you are able, but don't forget to listen. You will have fun whether you dance or not, I guarantee it. Here's the best thing I was able to find on the YouTubes. No video, just music.

Let's talk about "verbage"

In printed transcripts of an interview with Sarah Palin by Sean Hannity, who was basically feeding her lines, Palin is quoted as saying "It was an unfair attack on the verbiage that Senator McCain chose to use." All the news stories are printing it that way, but if you listen to the interview, she clearly said "verbage," not "verbiage." And she said "verbage" not once, but twice. Let's think about that for a moment.

Here's what the dictionary has to say:

verbiage |ˈvərbē-ij|
noun
speech or writing that uses too many words or excessively technical expressions.

There is no such word as "verbage," though.

In essence, Palin said that Obama had unfairly attacked the (speech or writing that uses too many words or excessively technical expressions) of John McCain. So Ms. Palin obviously doesn't even know the meaning of the word, much less how to pronounce it correctly, but that isn't going to stop her from using it anyway. While she thought she was criticizing Obama, she was actually unwittingly insulting her boss, John McCain. And we're supposed to believe that this... this... this mean-spirited MORON is qualified to be vice-president?

If any Republicans or McCain supporters are reading this, please, don't attack my verbage.

Watch this, if you don't believe me.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Doh!

When writing that last post, for some reason I had Fannie Mac in my head when I knew perfectly well that the correct name is Fannie Mae. With that in mind, aside from the fact that using the correct names renders the title of the post, well..., umm..., let's just say at least a little nonsensical, I stand by the rest of the post even though my momentary (?) loss of brain function compromises it just a tiny bit. It's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Really, the only difference between the correct name and the one I used is a wee little line on one wee little letter. It could happen to anybody, right? Am I a moron, or what? (You really don't need to answer that last question. It's better if I don't know. I've always wondered, though [Warning! Tangent Alert!] - how does a person know if he or she is a moron? Presumably, a moron isn't smart enough to tell the difference between stupid and smart. John McCain seems to believe he's not only smart, but entitled to his wealth* while people who work way harder than he has in at least a couple of decades deserve to be poor. It seems clear to me he's both not very intelligent and not entitled to his wealth, but he's too stupid to believe otherwise. [I'm not even going to begin to go into the sanity thing. At least, not right now.] That concept has bothered me for quite some time.)

* Okay, I know he was a prisoner of war. I heard that somewhere. Once. Or maybe twice. As such, I think he ought to have received combat pay for the entire time he was imprisoned as well as all the medical care and benefits any other veteran is entitled to. Dang! He and his party have been eliminating those benefits! Sorry, John, but you get no sympathy from me. Being a prisoner of war should give you some privileges, but it doesn't give you a free pass to be a total dick. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bailing out the Macs

Note (added 9/17/08): See post entitled "Doh!" above.

Since the announcement of the federal bailout of Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac, I'm a little surprised that the Republicans aren't screaming about how it's not in keeping with a "Free Market." I guess federal bailouts are okay when rich people make mistakes, but when the working classes are seeing record numbers of foreclosures, we can't bail them out. Ask John "I Don't Know How Many Houses I Own" McCain. Yes, I've heard all the arguments about how, if the Macs go under, it will be devastating to the economy, etc, etc, blah, blah, woof, woof. Still seems to me that it's yet another case of redistributing the wealth from the poor to the rich via our tax system. When it comes right down to it, you know that no matter how bad the economy gets, the Rich Bastards will be just fine. The middle and working classes will bear the brunt of it. After all, isn't that their raison d'être, to keep our rich people rich, no matter what the cost?

Last Friday I was listening to one of my favorite local radio programs, Mel and Floyd (I prefer to call them The Giggle Guys, because of the nice alliteration as well as the fact that pretty much what they do is read the news and giggle while they point out the absurdities in the week's stories while James Brown plays in the background), and they summed up the whole situation pretty well. They called it "privatized profit with socialized risk." Yep. Can't allow those Rich Bastards to lose money. That would be downright un-American. If we don't give them even more of our money, the Community Organizers have already won.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New blog friend

I mentioned one of Singing Bear's blogs in this post, but I would like to take a moment to formally introduce any readers of this blog who are not already familiar with it to Singing Bear's blog, Action-Time-Vision, a must for any music lovers. Pop on over and enjoy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dad

Today is the first anniversary of my father's death. I miss him.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Time for some music

I just discovered Singing Bear's blog, Action-Time-Vision, and all you music lovers out there might want to take a peek. While perusing the aforementioned blog, I was reminded of old Genesis (you know, back when Peter Gabriel was still in the group) for about the third time in the last month (one time at The Pagan Sphinx, once at Action-Time-Vision, and ... I can't remember where else). In my teens and early twenties they were one of my favorites. Here's the first song I ever heard by them, The Musical Box from the album Nursery Cryme. I remember first hearing it and being blown away. Superb musicianship along with a large helping of creativity and sonic coolness, plus bizarre and sometimes disturbing lyrics. Note that guitarist Steve Hackett occasionally uses both hands to fret the notes (actually, he fretted with the pick in his right hand and the fingers of his left hand). This video was made years before Eddie Van Halen allegedly invented the technique. Enjoy.



Pet Peeve Alert!!! One thing I can't stand about most music videos. Let's say the guitar player is playing something cool. So what does the camera do? Zooms in on the singer banging on a tambourine, of course. Or they show the guitarist's right hand when it's the left hand that's doing the interesting bit. Drives me crazy.

Additional thought added on 9/14/08: Many of the "Prog Rock" groups of that era have been criticized for being overly pretentious, among other things. While I think that is true in varying degrees for different bands, I always thought of Gabriel-era Genesis as being sort of Punk/Prog. There is an edge to much of their material that sets them apart from many of the others. Their playing was also very musical, rather than an attempt to show off how complicated and technically skilled they were. As an example, Steve Hackett's guitar solos were usually actual melodies rather than "diddley diddley diddley WHEEE". Hackett, keyboardist/guitarist Tony Banks and bassist/guitarist Michael Rutherford worked very well together in an orchestral sense. It was sometimes difficult to figure out who was doing what; often, some combination of Hackett, Banks and Rutherford would play in unison or harmony creating a massive sound; sometimes a melodic passage would begin with one person and shift to another in the middle. Banks liked to use guitar effects (distortion, phase shifting, delay, etc.) on his keyboards while playing a part that complimented the guitar, while Hackett would use effects on his guitar (volume pedal with distortion, phasing shifting and delay) that made it sound somewhat keyboard-like. A very unusual way of playing together, particularly for the time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jackass!

I got home today to find this truck parked on the strip of flowers Ms. Geranium plants next to the sidewalk every year. (I'm such a nice guy, I even blacked out his license plate to protect his privacy.)




When the dude returned to his truck, I approached him and pointed out that he had parked on our flowers. He wasn't very pleasant about it. In fact, he was downright nasty. If he had parked on them accidentally and apologized, I could have accepted that. People make mistakes. It turns out he saw them and just didn't care. So I called Charter and complained. It took about twenty minutes to navigate through their SVMS (Stupid Voice Mail System™) and speak to a human being. I had to pretend I was interested in switching to Charter before I could get anywhere. Somehow, I got the feeling they would rather not speak to their customers. Oh, I guess I'm not one of their customers. Whatever. I suspect those SVMSs are intended to make you give up, but I persisted and I'm sure that guy will never park on someone's flowers ever again. Yeah, right. I fully expect to get a brick through my window now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Second Biggest Scandal in Green Bay™

I suppose everyone, whether they like it or not, is aware of the scandal in Green Bay over the Brett Favre trade. Not to take anything away from Aaron Rodgers, Favre's replacement, but it was a bad move on the part of the Packers, in my opinion. At best, they handled the situation poorly. At worst, they were sleezy and disingenuous. The fact that the Packers hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer before negotiations began, in fact, before it was announced that Favre wanted to come back, to be their spokesperson for the duration, is a clear indication that they knew they were behaving badly and dishonestly and needed help spinning it. But that's the Biggest Scandal in Green Bay™ and not what I want to write about at this time.

The Second Biggest Scandal in Green Bay™ is . . . (drum roll, please) . . . PartyHouses™! Yes, you read that correctly, PartyHouses™. It seems that Rich Bastards have figured out that there is a residential neighborhood right across Lombardi Avenue from Lambeau Field, and they could buy those houses, renovate them and rent them out for Big Bucks on game days. The Rich Bastards, or the highest bidders, can have their own private "Tailgate Parties" without being forced to mingle with the riffraff, zip over to the stadium for the game (or stay at the PartyHouse™ and watch it on the new big-screen TVs that are being installed) and zip back for more bacchanalian excess. Now, that may not sound like too big a deal, but let's examine the situation a little more closely.

First, the neighborhood is zoned residential, not commercial. The houses in question are supposed to be occupied by the primary resident, whether it be an owner or a renter. Renting them by the day, weekend, week or month is in strict violation of the zoning, but Money always seems to get its way, particularly when any opposition is, well, Not Money.

Second, it's a pretty quiet neighborhood, and these PartyHouses™ are expected to be jam-packed with people who want to PARTY! The new owners are almost all from out-of-town or out-of-state, and you can be sure they don't give a rat's left butt-cheek about the residents of the neighborhood. They just see it as an opportunity to make a bundle of easy cash. Who's going to be responsible for the behavior of the Partyers? Who will pay for the damage the Drunken Cretins inflict on the neighborhood?

Third, all the houses in the neighborhood are one-story ranches. All of them. Up until now, that is. The houses that are being turned into PartyHouses™ are often having a second story added on to them. Is there any value to the view (of Lambeau Field) that people used to have before it was blocked by the PartyHouses™? Did anyone consult with the people who actually live in the neighborhood before adding the extra stories to these houses? Does anyone care that they are now completely out-of-scale with the rest of the neighborhood?

During our recent visit to my sister in Green Bay, we walked the three blocks (it was a difficult trek, but no amount of hardship is too great to bring this important information to you, dear reader) to get a look and a few photos.


This is a typical house on Shadow Lane. Note the glorious view.



Here's one of the PartyHouses™ as seen from Shadow Lane. You used to be able to see Lambeau Field from this vantage point. Note the out-of-state plates on the big honkin' SUVs parked in front and in the driveway (click on the photo if'n you want to enbiggen it).



Here's the same PartyHouse™ as seen from the other side (across Lombardi Avenue in the Lambeau Field parking lot). Note the size of the house immediately to the left.



Here's another. This one doesn't have the second story (yet), but look at that cute deck they put on top of the garage for your partying pleasure.



Yet another, as seen from Lombardi Avenue, with the second story again.



Here's one of those drunken fans I was telling you about, doing what drunken fans love to do most. Right on your lawn. Eeewwww!




As long as I'm at it, let's enjoy some more sights from
the Holy Land, Lambeau Field.



Inside.



The Fan Code of Conduct.
Nice, isn't it?



Vince Lombardi, facing the PartyHouses™.
"This is definitely not my father's NFL!"



Curly Lambeau, pointing at the PartyHouses™.
"Get those things out of my sight! Now! I mean it! That will be 20 laps!"



So, that's it. The Second Biggest Scandal in Green Bay™. Aren't you glad you read this blog?