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?)