Sunday, June 29, 2008

Letter from camp

Our youngest daughter is away at camp for two weeks. In the past, she hasn't been a very prolific letter writer while at camp, even though we provided her with stamped addressed envelopes, paper and writing utensils. She must be growing up, because she hadn't even been gone a week and we received a letter from her. It arrived in this envelope:

In case you can't read it, the envelope was originally addressed "To my most honored, revered parents, Suzy & Ed." Someone decided to doctor it a bit so it now reads "To my least honored, revered parents, Suzy & Ed, who are making me write this letter."

The enclosed letter begins "Dear strangers,"

Kids these days! I don't know where she gets her sense of humor from. Probably her mother.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This made me laugh.

Posted by whiskeymarie, one of my favorite bloggers. She almost always makes me laugh, but this is the first video post by her that I've seen. She's totally got the "Fargo" accent thing going. Check out her blog. I hope she doesn't mind that I put this up here, but her blog had a little button on it that says "Embed", so I assumed it was okay. Whiskey, if you read this and object, let me know and I'll take it down, okay? But bloggers want people to see their stuff, right? Not that I have all that much traffic that you need to worry about it, but, ummm... yeah. "Tokens for the casino"! Snicker, snicker! If I had been drinking anything when I heard that one, I'd be wiping down my monitor right now instead of writing this.

Whiskey does Friday from Whiskeymarie VonPartypants on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Appliances-SFB: Article about SFB re-issue

Regular readers of this blog (there must be at least seven of you by now) are most likely aware that I once played bass in a group called Appliances-SFB. Thanks to the efforts of drummer Meredith Young and Rusty Olson of Rockhaus Guitars, the previously unreleased third album, 3rd & Long, and our debut album, SFB, are now available on CD. It's a bit odd to see these albums being (re)-released after all this time. Appliances-SFB were in existence for 19 or 20 years and I was a member of the band for 17 years. We rehearsed and gigged quite a bit for most of my tenure and received little recognition. I choose to believe that, for the time, we were possibly too adventurous musically to gain any commercial success. Even if I'm wrong about that (I was wrong once; it could happen again), the fact that we were based out of Madison, WI didn't help a whole lot. There were bands in Madison during that time (Killdozer and The Tar Babies, for example) who may have had more commercial success, and deserved every bit of it, yet, as far as I know, none of them were able to really make a living at it.

So, here we are in 2008. It has been almost eleven years since the last A-SFB show (8/03/97). The first and third albums are out on CD for the first time. I don't have access to sales figures (I don't think anyone is getting rich on this project), but there seems to be an awful lot of interest in the group now. More than while we were active, and I don't know how to explain it. Still, it's gratifying to me to know that there are people out there to whom our music meant a lot. We invested a lot of our energy in this group. I think we were pretty good and pretty creative. Our live shows were always an adventure. Our recordings didn't capture the sheer energy of our live shows (recordings rarely do), but I think they were also pretty good.

When I think back on it, I realize that, although we were based in Madison, we probably played in Milwaukee something like five times for every time we played Madison.
Below, you will find an article from Milwaukee's In Music about the re-issue of SFB. The article mistakenly states that SFB stands for "Sh*t for brains". In reality, SFB may have stood for many different things (Sharks Fear Bears; Short, Fat & Balding are some possiblities), but "Sh*t fer brains" might well be the official version. Note the proper spelling of the second word: "fer", not "for". Read it if you so desire.

If you wish to purchase these very important bits of rock history, you can get them from B-Side or Mad City Music Exchange in Madison, Rockhaus or Atomic Records in Milwaukee, Rushmore Records (sorry, couldn't find a link for them) in Minneapolis or CD Baby on the internets.

Stay tuned for more posthumous A-SFB news.

In Music

Rockhaus reissues classic Appliances-SFB debut

Although based in Madison, we wouldn't blame you for thinking Appliances-SFB were a Milwaukee band.

By Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor

Although the band was from Madison, Appliances-SFB was a fixture on the Milwaukee music scene at the dawn on the 1980s.

More than Tar Babies and more than Swamp Thing and other Mad City bands, Appliances could reasonably be called part of the Brew City alternative rock and roll scene, playing regularly at The Starship, Niko's, The Palms and later at Café Voltaire and The Underground.

"The Appliances SFB were this amazing progressive yet edgy band from Madison who slipped into the Milwaukee scene like a nerdy A-Team, kicking ass at their shows, then leaving town before anyone knew what happened," remembers veteran musician Ron Faiola, who is now Webmaster of "In the early '80s Milwaukee didn't have an 'alternative' band with as many good musicians like the Appliances."

The band's Milwaukee connection continues well over a decade after its demise. In 2004, Rusty Olson of Rockhaus Guitars on the Southwest Side issued the band's third and final disc, "3rd and Long," on Rockhaus Records. It was the label's first release.

Now, Olson has reissued the band's definitive musical statement -- its eponymous 1984 debut -- on CD, too.

Olson says that the reissues came about thanks to the music store.

"I get to meet and talk to lots of musicians every day at the shop," he says. "Often times discussion is spent on gear, repairs, shows and recording projects. On just such an occasion I had been talking to (drummer) Meredith Scott Young about a recording his band Appliances-SFB had done some years back. It had been recorded, mixed and mastered and never released."

"3rd and Long" was recorded at Madison's now-legendary Smart Studios in the early 1990s with Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson who are three-quarters of the band Garbage.

Despite the fact that Olson's expertise was in guitars, not in releasing CDs, he decided the music was too important to pass up the chance to issue it.

"I thought this was a shame to see hard work and time spent on something just to have it on a shelf and never heard, so I asked him what they were going to do with it, we came up with the idea that Rockhaus should put it out.

"It could have seemed like an odd idea at the time for a guitar shop to do this, I couldn't think of a good reason not to do it and the idea rather appealed to me anyway."

Where "3rd and Long" is a fairly traditional, edgy post-punk rock and roll record, its roots are decidedly more engaging. And those roots are best experienced on the 1984 "SFB."

The manic vocals of singer Tom Laskin recall nothing less than the earliest work of Nick Cave with The Birthday Party. And if the music is a little more traditional post-punk on tunes like "Nothing" and "The Pest," other tracks, like "Mr. Ugly" and "Neo-Fascist" are firmly in the vein of that landmark Aussie band.

Olson says he's thrilled to reissue a disc that's as important to him as "SFB" is. ("SFB," incidentally, stands for 'sh*t for brains" and the band tagged it onto its name when it learned there was another band called The Appliances.)

"This one was one of my personal favorites," he says. "To have my name anywhere near it would have been an honor really. Most of all They were nice enough to let me do it. It was out of print and getting hard to find. I thought it would be nice to still find it on record store shelves.

"You know, for kids' sake," he adds, referencing a song title from "3rd and Long."

The disc has been mastered from the original ½-inch master tape, which Olson says was, fortunately, still in good condition.

"Its great having the reissues because back when an Appliances 45 or LP would come out," says Faiola, "if you didn't buy a copy right away, it would disappear -- either sold out or suddenly unavailable for some seemingly sinister reason."

Although Appliances-SFB broke up years ago, all of its members are still musically active, Olson says. Bill and Ed Feeny are in The Reptile Palace Orchestra and Ed is also in the Motor Primitives. Laskin writes for Madison's Isthmus newspaper and plays guitar with a band that does experimental recordings. Guitarist Bill Siebecker still plays guitar and works as a stage actor and drummer Young plays with Bad Dates and The Subliminal Overtones.

Olson says he hopes Rockhaus will continue to release CDs and has his sights set on two more Appliances discs for a start.

"There is the second record 'Green Door / Them' that has not been put out on CD yet. I also took in a reel of (unmixed) 2-inch tape of a live recording to Smart Studio a few weeks ago to be mixed down. Who knows, might be a busy year for the Appliances SFB.

"There is lots of really interesting music that is out of print or unreleased for whatever reason from the Midwest. If I can do something about it, I think I should. My business depends on local music to survive. I think the two go hand in hand."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mon Amie La Rose

In my last post I wrote about a song over which I have been obsessing. This sort of thing happens to me from time to time; I suspect I'm not alone in that regard. On an even earlier post I received a comment from Kate Smudges, who, as far as I know, was a new visitor to this blog (this is going somewhere. Really.) I try to check out the blogs of any visitors who choose to make themselves known, both out of courtesy and because it's a great way to find new and interesting blogs to keep me from engaging in real life. In typical Enriched Geranium fashion, it took me a couple of days to get over to her blog, but make it there I did, and I came across this post. For reasons that will most likely be obvious, it reminded me of another song over which I obsessed a while back, although the perspective of the song differs greatly from that of Kate's post. The name of the song is Mon Amie La Rose. A poem by Cécile Caulier and Jacques Lacombe, it was first recorded in 1964 by Francoise Hardy. Natacha Atlas sang it when she last came to Madison and I knew I had heard it somewhere before, but I couldn't remember where, when or by whom. After hearing Natacha Atlas perform it I couldn't get the darned thing out of my head for weeks. Then I read Kate Smudges' post and now it's running through my head again. Like the Fairport Convention song in the post previous to this one, there are some interesting musical quirks in it which I won't go into or this post will become entirely too long.

Here's the English translation of the lyrics (taken from a Natacha Atlas fansite) for those, like me, who don't know enough French to understand it, followed by the Natacha Atlas video. I have no idea what the deal is with some of the images in the video (the fighting couple, etc.). Maybe it's supposed to represent a typical nightclub scene. I don't know. I'd prefer to see either Ms. Atlas and her band or nothing and just listen rather than have some video producer impose their "artistic vision" on the song. I must be getting old. Personally, I'd recommend ignoring the video and, unless you're fluent in French, read the translation while listening. I suppose I ought to warn you, it's not exactly an uplifting song and Natacha Atlas can rip your heart out with her voice. I guess I like that sort of thing. Sick, I know. Thanks for indulging me my little obsessions.

We amount to very little
And my friend the rose
Told me that this morning
I was born at dawn
Baptized by the dew
I opened in full bloom
Happy and in love
In the sunshine
I closed up at night
I woke up having turned old
Yet I had been beautiful
Yes, I was the most beautiful
Flower in your garden

We amount to very little
And my friend the rose

Told me that this morning

See god who made me
Made me bow my head
And I feel like I'm falling
And I feel like I'm falling
My heart is almost bare
I have one foot in the tomb
Already I am no more
Only yesterday you were admiring me
And I will be dust
Tomorrow forever more

We amount to very little
And my friend the rose

Died this morning
The moon last night
Watched over my friend
In a dream I saw
Her dazzling, naked
Soul that danced
Way above the clouds
And which smiled at me
Believe it he who can
Myself, I need hope
Otherwise I am nothing

We amount to very little
And my friend the rose

Told me that this morning

See god who made me

Made me bow my head

And I feel like I'm falling

And I feel like I'm falling

My heart is almost bare

I have one foot in the tomb

Already I am no more

Only yesterday you were admiring me

And I will be dust

Tomorrow forever more

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fairport Convention: Now Be Thankful

My apologies, or thanks, or a tip of the hat, to Luminiferous Ether. She posted this for the Summer Solstice and now I can't get it out of my head. I suppose I ought to be cursing her instead thanking her. Most readers of this blog probably have already seen it, but I'm putting it up for anyone who comes here that doesn't read LE's blog (although, if you don't, you might want to check it out; she's a superb writer in more ways than one.)

I realize I'm making the assumption that Fairport Convention requires no introduction. If, perchance, you're not familiar with them, they're pretty well documented on the internets. The song in question, "Now Be Thankful", is an Olde Englishe folke songe, or possibly an original tune written in that style. I can't seem to find any writing credits for it. There is a bit of a religious theme to it, but not in a way that I feel anyone who isn't religious (like me) would find objectionable. Modern conventions of musical structure hadn't been invented yet (nor, apparently, had the guitar solo). The verse and chorus both have 3 lines. In the verse, the first line has 12 beats, the second line has 10 beats and the third line has 15 beats. That's just weird, but it works. The chorus is a little more normal: the first 2 lines have 12 beats each, the third line has 16 beats and there are 16 beats in between the end of each chorus and the beginning of each verse. Dave Swarbrick's vocals on this song are nothing short of superb. Unlike most music one hears on the radio these days, he used no electronic pitch correction. It hadn't been invented yet, either. Okay, now. I've gotten that out of my system. For the time being, anyway.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

It's the solstice, and you know what that means? Yes, you guessed it: Stonehenge!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Toad porn: the sequel

This is what happens when toads do this without taking the proper precautions. Click on the image if you wish to enbiggen it.


Monday, June 16, 2008

The Cow Buzzed

I got it from Luminiferous Ether, who got it from Franiam, who got it from...

In case you're wondering, that title is in reference to a children's book by Andrea Zimmerman that we used to read to our kids back in the dark ages. The bee sneezed and the cow caught the sniffle and the sneeze, Ahchoo!, and next thing you know...

So, this is where I stand on the political compass. Just a hair to the right of Luminiferous Ether.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2 gigs this weekend!

Yes, it's true, I'm playing two gigs this weekends, one each with The Reptile Palace Orchestra and The Motor Primitives, and to emphasize just how exciting this opportunity is for you, the reader and potential listener, I put an exclamation point in the title of this post as well as at the end of this sentence!

Now for the particulars:

1) Friday, June 13, 2008: The Reptile Palace Orchestra will play (weather permitting) for FREE at the Capital Brewery Bier Garten, 7734 Terrace Avenue, Middleton, WI. Show time is 6:00 pm. Bring your dancing shoes! Or maybe an umbrella.

**Thanks to Suzy (a.k.a. Ms.Geranium [a.k.a. Luminiferous Ether]) for being so gracious about me playing a gig on our 21st anniversary. Somebody buy her a Kahlua and cream. Hmmm.... maybe I should be the one doing that. Never mind.

2) Saturday, June 14, 2008: The Motor Primitives appear at The Frequency, 121 W. Main St., Madison, WI for the ridiculously low cover charge of $4. Show time is 9:00 pm, and The MPs will be the first of three bands (Tangy will play second, followed by The August Teens), so you won't have to stay out too late to hear us. This is an indoor event, so no umbrella will be needed. Dancing shoes are good, though, and maybe a boat to get home if we get any more rain.

I hope to see some familiar and/or friendly faces at one or both of these events!

Rock on,

Monday, June 9, 2008

Missed me!

It was quite windy on Friday. While making my daily rounds with the dog, I was walking beneath a large tree when I heard a loud tearing, cracking sound coming from overhead. It occurred to me at that time that it might be a good idea to get away from that tree, and sooner would be better than later. I suggested the same to a woman walking nearby, and we proceeded briskly away from the tree. It was only seconds later that the tree split down the middle and a large chunk of it fell where I had been walking. It think it took at least 5 seconds or more to fall so I believe I would have had time to get out of the way had I been underneath, but I'm glad I didn't have to find out. Of course, I had to get pictures the next time I went back. And, lucky you! Here they are.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Appliances-SFB "SFB" now available from CD Baby

Since I posted this, SFB has become available through CD Baby in addition to the stores mentioned in the previous post. Don't forget to get your copy of 3rd & Long while you're at it!

The Motor Primitives: "Beautiful Mind" Live at The High Noon Saloon, 4/15/08

Lookee what I just discovered on YouTube. The end got cut off. Oh, well. Through my tiny computer speakers there appears to be no bass at all, but play it through normal speakers and Voila! Instant viola ... errr, ummm, bass!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Appliances-SFB "SFB" now available!

SFB, the first album by Appliances-SFB, is available on CD at last! Although I have yet to see it, I'm told that B-Side in Madison has it in stock. Mad City Music Exchange would be another possibility, as would Atomic Records in Milwaukee. Re-issued by Rockhaus in Milwaukee, it can be obtained directly from them as well. It's a little tricky to find on their website, but if you call or email them, I'm sure they'd be happy to sell you a copy. While you're at it, pick up a copy of 3rd & Long. You'll be glad you did. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming re-issue of Them/Green Door, the second album by Appliances-SFB, coming soon from Rockhaus.

** CD Baby has 3rd & Long, and you can listen to some of the songs there, but SFB isn't available through them yet. Hopefully, both albums will also be on iTunes at some point in the not-too-distant future. **

Monday, June 2, 2008

Turtle sightings

Mother's Day, 2008 at the UW Arboretum.

From a different angle.

This beast was a good two feet long or more. Unfortunately, it was also dead.

Today at the bark park. It appeared to be laying eggs right in the middle of the trail.

Hard work.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Some stuff.

At the bark park recently, this toad wanted to learn to fly, so it climbed into my toadapult.

A lost child. The tennis ball is just there to give some idea of scale. It made one heck of an omelet.

At a rest area in Minnesota on the way to a wedding. I guess Minnesotans are flexible.

At the same rest area. I wasn't quite sure what this was supposed to "mean." Is it "fresh" or isn't it?

I guess the drinking age is a little younger in Minnesota.