Friday, February 23, 2007

Go Out And Play -- and Catch a Pesty Fly

I promised myself I would do something sincere and unironic this week, and by jove, I did. I do it every night. I read my Sammy his bedtime stories. Bedtime storytime is as sincere and wonderful and unironic as you can get.

Right now, Sammy's favorite books are Eric Carle books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, and The Very Busy Spider. Last night's selection was a few other books, wrapped up with the Very Busy Spider. The thing that kids love about Eric Carle is that its extremely repetitive, easy to learn, lots of different characters (usually animals) interacting with the same protagonist in much the same way, to the point where a kid could pretty much learn the story and "read" it back to you. Rest assured, we do call it reading: "Whose turn to read tonight?" I asked Sammy. "Mine!" he triumphantly replies, picking up The Very Busy Spider.

Here it is in a nutshell: a spider literally blows into a barnyard and starts spinning her web. One by one, farm animals stop by and invite her out to play or do something fun: "Oink Oink" says the pig, "Want to roll in the mud?" or "Neigh Neigh" says the horse, "Want to go for a ride?" And after each and every page's temptation, "The spider didn't answer. She was very busy spinning her web." Bottom line, the spider's got a job to do, and by staying on task, she does it, blowing off all the offers of diversion. She ends up catching and eating the pesty fly that shows up, and by the time the owl comes by to admire the beautiful web and ask who built it, the spider doesn't answer -- because she's crashed from "a very busy day." When I read the story, if I so much as get one word wrong, it’s a federal case. But when Sammy reads, it's different. Sometimes, in the World of Sammy, the spider takes up the friendly offer: "Quack Quack, say the duck. Want to go for a swim? And the spider put on her swimsuit and went swimming and took a shower and then came back and she was very busy spinning her web." Of course, in the Sammy version, the spider still gets the job done and crashes out before the owl shows up. But this is the precious thing about Sammy: in his world, there's time for work and play, with no penalty for taking a little time off to slack. Sometimes Sammy's busy spider even gets a mud roll with the pig in AND squeezes a bit of rock jumping with the goat into her busy day and still finishes her web and catches the fly. That's my boy!

This is also sounding like my weekend: I have a couple of Y workouts, a ton of housework, some shopping to do, band rehearsal, meeting with my photo group to get in, but there's also time for fun. And there's a plethora of choices this weekend. I'm hitting Bucks v Philly Saturday night after a Festivus party thrown by the fabulous horror writer Elaine (its only a coincidence that she shares a name with a Seinfeld character) Bergstron. Then I'm going to the Port of Hamburg to see the self-appointed house band, my perennial favorites Dr. Chow's Love Medicine. But If I didn't have game tickets, I'd also be at one of these highly recommended early evening shows:

  • Start your evening in Riverwest, the Circle A to be exact, and catch Floor Model, a band I saw open for the aforementioned Dr. Chow a year ago and have been trying to catch again since. Just a two piece, but great songwriting, and terrific delivery from guitarist/vocalist Jeff Callesen, who has turned out to be the dad of this darling little girl at Sammy's school that Sammy has a little crush on. I hope they do "You're Not The Fonz." I mention the little girl/Sammy connection, though, because I think maybe that helps shape their sound: we're supposedly parents, we're supposed to have settled down, but people like us have never done anything we're supposed to do! So maybe that's why they're as good as they are: "Dammit, I'm a responsible parent and sensible and everything, but I still want to rock!" With a shit-eating grin on your face at that. Show (like all Circle A shows) starts at 8.

  • Then you should bounce down to Bay View to see Snooky at Puddler's Hall. All I need to know about Snooky is that Tony "Francis" Rogan is one of them, and I'm therefore a fan. I first met Rogan when he played, well, just about everything (drums, guitar, bass, they all took turns) for the sorely missed Racine/Kenosha snotty ass punks, the Moths. They opened for my band at Confettiz (which is now McAuliffe's) in Racine, and I instantly fell in love with them. There were a bunch of guys who clearly knew how to play their instruments, changing them around every couple of songs, and you could tell they had jazz sensibilities (and training) but were having too much fun being reckless inebriated punks. I will never forget the time they debuted in Milwaukee, and did a song I'll remember forever, "Garbage Can Dick," about guys who pierce their 'nads. "How do you wear a rubber? How do you stay protected? I hope it gets infected! 'Cos that's fucked up!" There wasn't an uncrossed pair of legs in the house.

    And now we have Snooky, who have the same jazz sensibilities, the same punk attitude, but now in more of a hard rock, almost metal, (but too self-effacing and too self-conscious to be prog) context. It happens to the best of punks: they quit getting so damn drunk and the actually learn how to play their instruments, and well, the last time I saw them was about a year ago at Vnuk's and despite their competence they still had a great, edgy sound. Then again, I'll go see Tony Rogan read the dictionary, anything he touches. (He's got a hip-hop band going called the Haz Bros. Say that a few times out loud and you'll get it. Keep the abbreviation in, not like me who thought, "The Haz Brothers? I don't get it.") But not tonight. He's competing with the Bucks v Philly and I have great seats. But you, dear reader, should go and check out Snooky at Puddler's Hall. They go on first for a huge bill, so they're starting at 9, or so they claim.

  • By 10:30 or so the Bucks will have been creamed by the 76ers, so go down a little further on Howell Avenue, and catch a pesty Fly (as in Paul "The Fly" Lawson) with me at the Port of Hamburg and drown our sorrows with the psychedelic garage blues of Dr Chow's Love Medicine. I've already written enough about this band as it is, but they're still a favorite. They mix originals (right now, I'm still keeping "My Evil Twin From a Parallel Dimension" at the top of my hitlist) with garage covers that I'm pissed about because I want my band to do them. ("Sorry, Andy, Dr. Chow's already doing 'Evil BumbleBee', and they're doing it well." "Bugger.") Thrill to Frank Chandik begging you to blow him (a kiss) before he whines about how Evil Hearted you are. Then buy me a drink to thank me for recommending this. I'm partial to the excellent weissbier selection the House of Hamburg has on tap.

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