Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bucks v Philly: A Good Hair Day

Korver adjusts his hair again
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
I don't think its a coincedence: the game after Andrew Bogut finally shaves that horrible thing off his face (that some people might have politely called a "beard") the Bucks run onto the court and very decidedly kill the Philadelphia 76ers.

What with all the snow, my husband, who doesn't like to deal with snow day drivers, declined attendance, so instead of paying the sitter to come over, we decided to treat the sitter, and Talia and I had a lovely girls' night out at the Bradley Center, trying to decide what was it about the Energee Girls this year we didn't like (we've decided that they've just gotten too slutty this year), what was it about Ersan Ilyasova we did like (the resemblance of his name to Illya Kuryakin, which immediately registers "International Man of Cuteness") and what was it about Philly's Kyle Korver that was driving us up the wall. Talia figured it out almost instantly: every minute he was fixing his hair.

Actually, when you look at the box score, it was even more often than that. We counted: Korver fixed his hair 24 times, and according to the Milwaukee Journal's box score this morning, he was only on the court for 22 minutes. He scored 4 field goals, so Princess Kutcher's points-to-hair-fixing ratio was 3 to 1. Our counting was semi-scientific: we did not count timeouts or when he was on the bench. We may have, however, missed a few times when we went out to procure a bag of the Bradley Center's most accurately named game snack, Heavenly Roasted Nuts.

We were late. I was running around in the snow (that hadn't arrived yet, it was the freaking Rapture if you were listening to the weathermen) so we missed the anthem, and the first couple of minutes, and the Bucks were down by some ten points when we kicked some people out of our seats only to learn they had better seats and we could have looked at their tickets and said, "Oh, you're right, we must be in that one section over right behind the bench!" But we're honest folks, and sent them on their way to their $100-more-a-pop seats.

The clean-shaven Bogut didn't do a whole lot tonight except let his 'Lectric Shave face be a beacon of 3-pointer goodness, as Mo Williams finally found his shot again, and he and Michael Redd, who is back, people had a good ol time seemingly playing horse with each other. Another asset to this game: the goateed Brian Skinner (now there's some well-placed facial hair, it works on Skinner) showing the Bucks how defense should be.

Anyway, as Talia is a vegetarian (aren't all hip babysitters?), our tickets, now good for a Quarter Pounder With cheese, weren't much value to her, except for our ritual cheers of "Royale With Cheese" as we left the stadium.

I'd blogged earlier about some, honestly, best laid plans. The snow (or more accurately, the apolocalyptic predictions of snow) ruined them. Dr. Chow or Mr. Plow? Mr. Plow won. Snooky canceled their gig. I suppose that Floor Model went through with theirs at Circle A. We need a way to find out what bands cancel their gigs on nights like this. Can you see the crawl on Fox News 6: "Butthole Surfers concert -- cancelled!"

But overall, this blizzard really turned out to be only a somewhat daunting snowstorm. The 20 inches we were supposed to get turned out to be, what, 8-10 inches. What, did we not all grow up with this every year? We're in the midwest, people, and in the winter, I know this is hard to believe, but sometimes it snows during the winter.

Brian and I laughed about this all day, about how all the weather guys seem to really look forward to this, like finally, they're going to be the lead story, and they're having the world's biggest stiffie over it. Watch them the next time they get to "predict" a giant weather disaster: they can hardly contain their excitement that they get to use all their special weather gear, and circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of ..... oh, different monologue here. Sorry. Got carried away, but heck, I'm way down at the bottom of the list of people who got carried away over this snowstorm. Hey (warning, snarky commentary about the sad state of TV "journalism" coming up), at least that relieved the news staff of doing their job, coming up with some pseudo newsertainment to fill a half hour.

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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bucks v Detroit: Dr Chow's Love Boat

I'm Really Glad Somebody Does
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Well, it was a good game, at least. Michael Redd is back, and even if he's not at 100% of his game (you can tell that if he's not still hurting a bit, he still has to get back to full NBA power), he's this igniting spark that the Bucks so badly need right now, especially while Charlie Villenueva is still out. We arrived a bit late (one more round of sushi at NanaKusa was worth it): missed the anthem, and missed the first couple of minutes when we sat down and realized, "they're getting killed right away!" So it was again a case of expecting a loss, and having a win dangled in front of us.

A lot of people have commented that what the Bucks are missing is defense: well, the goateed Brian Skinner was definitely showing exactly what defense should be. The fact that the final score was in the low 80s points to that. I think somebody's put a pox on the Bucks: there were at least five teeter-totter shots that, if had been anybody else, would have gone in. Can't they get a break? But they also seem to be choking at crucial points. The Bucks came to within 1 point of winning near the end -- with 34 seconds to go there's a Detroit possession, then a free throw for Detroit, which they miss, and then for the last possession, the Bucks have their chance. And they don't do it. One stinking layup, and they couldn't get it. Last year, these guys were the kings of buzzer-beating wins, now, its almost assumed that if the win isn't handy, its not going to be a win.

Oh well, at least the halftime entertainment, fresh from "America's Got Talent" was the David Hasselhoff-approved "Quick Change." You remember this couple. They did one thing, but they did it well: poof, she's changed her outfit. (Piers hated them, but still, you can't tell how they did it!). Fun to watch, and they're even more amazing to see in person, at center court, so there's truly nothing up their sleeve or backstage.

Tonight I'm going to contrast and compare two promotions. One is the cheesy Duchow's Boat Race. I guess Duchow's boats is a boat dealership in the western burbs, out by Lake country. I first saw one of the little pseudo-boats ready to race during a timeout, and thought it said "Dr. Chow's", but that would have been too good to be true. No, the racers race, and each boat gets an accompanying section of seats whose ticket holders will get a piece of the take. And what's the take? What valuable prize does everybody in section 201 get because their boat won? A coupon good for $1,500 off their next boat purchase. Take a look at the fans in section 201. Do they look like they're in the market for a new boat? All of them?Oh, whoop-de-doo, you can just feel their excitement at winning this amazing and valuable prize.

On the other hand, we have the coffee race, a computer generated ripoff of the Miller Park Sausage races. They don't even have guys dressed like coffee cups on the court, its just an animated "race" on the jumbotron. However, at least the prize is sorta good. They pick three people from the crowd, and each person gets assigned a coffee (cutesy name either AnBREW Bogut, Charlie WILLOWnueva, or something like that.) The "coffees" take a lap around the block, whatever block this is. Everybody in the winner's section gets a coupon for a free cup of coffee at Open Pantry, which right there is more valuable than a $1,500 off coupon you probably will never use. But the person who is picked to represent the section, if they're the winner, gets a $100 gift certificate at Open Pantry. Thing is, I can't get past calling it a "gift certificate." How often do you go gift shopping at Open Pantry? For that matter, how often do you drop a c-note at Open Pantry, really? "Hey, uh, give me a coupla packs of Newport Lights, a vial of ginseng there, and a Slurpee. Oh, and, uh, ninty three Powerball tickets."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wedding Funeral Lynch Surrealism Wrong Bugs

Weekend of surrealism continues Saturday night....

Sweatin' it out, Buddy
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Saturday morning I awoke, refreshed from the splendour that was the Milwaukee Ballet, ready to face a new day. Loaded up the camera with fresh batteries, a spanking new sram card and headed over to the Clarion Hotel Banquet Center. Walked into the ballroom and instantly had this strange feeling come over me. This wasn't my typical comfortable rock and roll club, capacity 250 (often less), where I could pay $3 for a delicious homebrew. No, I've got a $2, 8-oz diet pepsi (easy ice) in my hand, cameras dangling from my shoulders, strolling across the parquet dance floor in my shitkicking blue cowboy boots. I'm scanning for a familiar face among the round banquet tables lit up with trapezoidal candles flickering like winter luminaria, and suddenly I've got the distinct feeling I'm crashing somebody's wedding.

Shurilla and the Greatest Hits aren't up quite yet. No, we start off the winter dance party with Chuck Travis band, doing hits from the era. They were good, they played the songs straight up. And I mean straight up. There were two sides of music to the late 50s, early 60s, and this was the Pat Boone side: cleaned-up, non-threatening, but nevertheless well-played rock and roll. Let's face it, there's good money in that, and I think their souls were true. Anybody who puts this shirt and tie combination together (which could only be appreciated close up, you couldn't see this from the stage) gets points with me. Toward the end of their set, they brought up this guy whose stage name was "Dave DeLorean" to do Neil Diamond. He had the shirt and haircut that confirmed that he probably got to the gig driving that car from Back to the Future. Really, they played up the "On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors" author's resemblance to this guy. And he didn't do a bad Neil Diamond, but when they brought up Claire "Thunder" Sardina up to duet with him, that's when I realized I wasn't at somebody's wedding. I was at a funeral/wake. A fun, "let's send 'em off in style" funeral, nevertheless, this whole night was a memorial to not only Mike "Lightning" Sardina, but to Buddy Holly himself, and that whole entourage that perished after that Winter dance party almost half a century ago. The ghostly feeling was to color the whole evening, confirming my preconceived notions of surrealism.

They also bring up this 15-year old girl with the grownup voice, and since this is the Pat Boone side of things, they have her cover Connie Francis and Brenda Lee, and this girl was indeed Little Miss Firecracker. Except, I really can't suffer through Connie Francis. This girl had the pipes to be doing Lesley Gore, who, if I've got to deal with cutsey girls with spunk, I have to go with the defiance of "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To." But Connie Francis to me was always Spunk Without A Cause. (Remember when Lou Grant first met Mary Richards on the old Mary Tyler Moore show? "Hey, you've got spunk. I HATE spunk!!!") Then again, I'll cut this girl a break. She's 15, she's at a wedding/funeral, the next oldest person there was twice her age, her parents are probably there, no, I guess there was no room for focused spunk. I give her five years and she'll be looking to Joan Jett for "You Don't Own Me" inspiration.

Mark Shurilla enters the building, in a white sportscoat, his daily driver Buddy glasses on. He stays in character the entire time, from the moment he breezes past the merch table (staffed by the glorious Marla Rothenberg), to his milling about the crowd while emcee Alan Eisenberg preps them with "I believe Buddy Holly has entered the building", to when the Greatest Hits take the stage and jump instantly into "That'll Be the Day." They're on, and the crowd, slowly but surely, loosens up and enjoys the show. There's blown up photos of Buddy and the Big Bopper in front of the stage, and as Shurilla is clearly the experienced one at this whole Winter Dance Party, he almost does it in his sleep: his wit flying over people's heads (and under some!) his knowledge of Buddy's life and trivia being told as Shurilla's own story, and Holly's voice coming out of Shurilla's face like I've never heard it before. Shurilla's right-hand man, Dan "I Love Neil Diamond Probably Even More than Dave Delorean Does" Mullen is handling his second in command duties like the Lieutenant Commander William T Riker wannabe his facial hair implies, and he effortlessly sings Del Shannon's "Runaway" (believe it or not, one of my favorite songs of all time) and steals the farfisa solo from keyboardist Brian Kurzinski and plays it on his Fender instead, changing it up with surprisingly no objections from the purist crowd. Terry "The Animal" Garguilo lives up to his nickname laying down a primal jungle freight train, especially on Peggy Sue, beating the toms in a way that makes caucasian fathers check on their teenage daughters' whereabouts. Then, they get a guy named Luiz, to be Richie Valens, and to sing to that Donna girl who took the only known original Dance Party Photos. Sardina's brother-in-law wrote about this cool story in his column earlier this week and of course Luiz serenades her with "Donna."

They bring up Claire Sardina again. What is Thunder going to do without Lightning? I'll tell you, she should not being doing Abba, which she started out with. Sardina has a full, rich trained voice that, I repeat, should not be doing Abba -- it cheapens her down to unintentional self-parody, and besides, there's already Bjorn Again and thus no Abba void to fill. No, she finds her voice when she treats us to "Walking After Midnight" and that's when you realize there's a true born again musical future for Claire Sardina: and it has Patsy Cline's name on it. Stick to the Patsy, Claire. Any drag queen can get paid to sing Abba (such an easy target!), but very few people can respectively deliver Cline's classy country blues and Sardina is one of them. Plus, Claire Sardina has had enough of a blueswoman's life to draw her own inspiration and make it real: you're done with pop fluff, Claire, time to slice open your heart and let the blues spill out. We know it's in you.

But overall I am so not used to this kind of thing. I'm used to going to see a band play covers, but putting their own stamp on things, making the songs their own. Amazing keyboard player Kurzinski shakes me out of this: he does a terrific Jerry Lee Lewis for his two biggest hits, Whole Lotta Shaking, and Great Balls of Fire. He's got the Killer's timbre down, and maybe he's just new at this and needs to loosen up, but I can see a manic keyboard player trapped inside, dying to get out. And he doubles on sax! But since he's not actually bringing up the ghost of Jerry Lee (and,uh, he can't because Jerry Lee, unlike almost everybody else being covered tonight, isn't dead), its kind of comforting. For those two songs, I'm not at a funeral anymore. I'm back at the wedding. However, these musicians are more actors than musicians tonight, method actors doing their best to recreate 1959, and for the most part, they succeed. But the ghosts are still milling about the dance floor.

So while Shurilla is conducting a rock and roll séance to bring The Big Bopper down from heaven to tell us what we already knows he likes, bassist Bob Jorin finally accepts that this is indeed his reality, and begins speaking in tongues. It is at this moment when, like Jorin, I too accept that this is not a David Lynch film I've stumbled into, but reality indeed.

Tom, "Mr. Wrong"
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
When the lights come up, and the music dies, I have a decision to make. Do I join Marla and Miles at some karaoke bar at 27th and Ryan Road and continue the surreality, or do I go with my previous plan to finally go see The Bugs at Lulu? I decide I've had enough of camp, and go and pitch my tent at Bar Lulu, arriving just in time to see Jorin walk onstage with his bass to play with openers Mr. Wrong, a band he'd (two hours earlier) told me he had quit. But if I'd spent the past two hours in a wedding funeral house band, I'd need to go up on stage and play "Take The Skinheads Bowling" with Tom "X-Cleavers" Lesions too. Really, if I'd known who Mr. Wrong was months ago, I'd have been here months ago to see some Riverwest stalwarts play punk and new wave from my youth on acoustic instruments. Acoustic covers of stuff all over the map, playing songs that really need to get played more by bands, a setlist ranging from the sincere (r.e.m.'s "The One I Love") to my second favorite snotty Rolling Stones song, "The Last Time." Lesions told me they basically formed by osmosis: a few open stage nights at The Wicked Hop and next thing you know, Chris Lehmann and this Cary guy are jamming out. I liked them, because we're all at an age where its nice to hear people playing songs not because they're cool, not because they'll sell a lot, but simply because they like to play them, and that's why it was a good time to listen to them and perhaps even mouth (if not actually sing) along.

The Bugs at Club Lulu
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
And then the Bugs. Why have I put off seeing these guys for so long? Where have they been my whole life? OK, they don't just punk up Beatles hits. Rather, they are punks, tattooed mowhawked skinny clever machinegun punks, with clever-dick names (lead guy Lane is "Lane Klosier" according to their myspace page) who play Beatles songs they only way they know how. "Norweigan Wood" becomes a Hawkwind blastoff that never lets up on the throttle. "I Am The Walrus" doesn't leave them any room to go "Wooooo!" so we in the audience take on that role, and its not even a problem that they don't modulate the pentatonic chord progressions in the end. (The punk drug is not the Beatles' acid, it's amphetamines.) They're not limited to Beatles: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" gets trimmed down to just one side of a 45 single without editing any verses, they just sing/play it fast and rocky, so that you can finally feel how tumultuous Lake Superior really gets. "Everyday People" feels right at home as a punk rant instead of a funk ballad. The set seems short, so at the end I head to the bathroom, drain my $3 microbrews, take a picture of myself, and head home, to rest up for Volume 3 of Surreal Weekend.

Sunday wraps up Surreal Weekend -- I think

It's Sunday evening. So I think that I've left Surreal Weekend, right? For once, I actually woke up this morning before Sammy gets me up, and I have time to make myself a pot of coffee, and read the Sunday paper while I can still read a whole paragraph without interruption and learn that Surreal Weekend continues. Among the news stories that catch my eye:

So we had our NASCAR pals over for the Daytona 500, and just for fun, our pal, sprint car enthusiast, AJ Foyt Fan, and general racing curmudgeon Rob McCuen went and picked up Dan "Myles" Mullen to join us so I wouldn't be the only girl in the room who doesn't follow NASCAR all that closely. (I much prefer the elegant eurosexual hotness that comprises the crop of F1 drivers, but that's what Juan Pablo Montoya is for, eh?) And I don't care if all these guys are biologically and sexually male. Yes, there was enough testosterone in the room to put hair on my lactating chest, but watching this race with all these guys was like being in the henhouse: Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little, Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little, Cheep Cheep Cheep Talk A Lot Pick A Little More -- Goodnight Ladies! Sheesh, none of you guys ever again have permission to give us girls grief about how bitchy and catty we can get. OK, I will admit, listening to Brian and Rob call this race was better for my abdomen than 50 bent-knee situps, or at least my core muscles felt so afterwards, I laughed so much.

Mullen reported to me that indeed, Saturday's surreality continued at the karaoke bar at 27th and Ryan, as he (if he did say so himself) brought down the house "Crying" with Roy Orbison. Still, I'm glad I went virtually bowling with the skinheads. I needed a halftime break. Thank you, Mr. Wrong and the Bugs. You have no clue how much you helped me survive this.

Finally, after the race we all feasted on oven-baked ribs and this new recipe I've got for Bourbon Baked Beans, the kids built forts and played computer games all day, and the guests left after I made them all look at the pictures I shot last night. I finally hit the wall, falling asleep on the couch, awaking to see and hear Wayne Newton sing "Viva Las Vegas" at the NBA All-Star Pregame show. ("No, hon, this wasn't a dream even if Wayne does look like he's wearing a halloween mask instead from all the face work," Brian assured me.) OK, that does it. I'm going upstairs to bed, I'm going to fall asleep and Gene Mueller is going to wake me up at 5:30 Monday Morning to go to work and tell me the weather and traffic reports and everything is going to be all normal again.

I so desperately need to go out and do something righteously sincere and unironic this week I can taste it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Where No Ballet Has Gone Before

People, get past your preconceived notions and get with the program, because Margo Sappington's "Common People" with the Milwaukee Ballet featuring music from the project that William Shatner did with Ben Folds was one of the best things I've seen all year. Really. I'm not saying this ironically or anything. I'm saying, God, I wish I could be sitting near the the Shat himself in the audience when he sees this for the first time, realizing that he has finally been validated.

Sappington knows how to chorerograph poetry and spoken word without doing it literally. The opening (and title) track got out attention. "It Hasn't Happened Yet" might have been one of my favorite intrepetations -- a soloist dancer does his thing, while a company group seems to approach him -- and then pass him by. We were all wondering how exactly "I Can't Get Behind That" (Shatner's poetry slam with Henry Rollins) was going to work -- Sappinton spotlighted a dancer in a square spotlight for each little rant, each dancer ranting themself and pulling across the feeling of righeous frustration put forth by Shatner and Rollins. "Ideal Woman" "Has Been" and others were absolutely wonderful. Stella was fixated.

You could tell audience reaction was mixed. This piece followed a rather severe Balanchine classic, "Agon" to some really severe Stravinsky music. So the audience -- many of who I'm sure probably associate ballet with gentleness and such -- was already kind of aggroed out. Then they have to deal with Joe Jackson's wonderful music hall blues wail on top of Shatner growling out "Watching roaches crawl the wall -- one call to daddy could stop it all!" in "Common People." And let's get real, some of the language used is not commonplace in the Marcus Center. A few people were simply aghast, but as our older usherette commented to us as we walked to the lobby for an intermission break, "I've never seen anything like it," and she was positive. You'd be amazed what wonderfulness can creep into an open mind. It was beautiful, moving, arresting, everything ballet can and should be. If I had a spare $50 (and the time) I'd be there tonight. I want to see it again. I want this on DVD. Bravo, Denny Crane!

Last piece was "Seconds before the Ground" with music by the Kronos Quartet, and while I'm glad I wasn't an artist that had to follow "Common People," the Trey McIntyre piece was a nice sendoff into the night. It too was lovely, and probably unbunched the panties of the straightedge crowd. The music had elements of african rhythms and melodies, and the dance playfully followed valentines week lovers through four movements of Kronos preciseness. It was enough to inspire our companions (Stella's hip babysitter and hip babysitter's mom, noted writer Amy Waldman) to consider a season subscription next year. We're already excited about the Genesis Dance competition next month -- there will be three ballets presented, and the winning choreographer will be comissioned for a full lenght work next season. Very, as artistic director Michael Pink noted, American Dance Idol, except that I don't think we'll get to vote on the winner. Probably good thing too, since "Common People" kind of proves that the Milwaukee ballet market isn't exactly enamored over anything that isn't straight up classical orchestral ballet. (This isn't the first time I've felt this, even before the wonderful Michael Pink arrived, Milwaukee fine arts audiences have been a tough sell on anything that isn't traditional.)

Screen Door-- Justin G
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Popped into the Lemon Lounge afterwards, on hip babysitter's recommendation, to catch a production of the Electronic Music Coalition. Tonight it was a DJ by the name of "Screen Door" (or Justin G, I can't keep all these DJ monikers straight). Nice techno mash up -- good lounge music, and managed to mash up a bit of "Teen Spirit" with a couple of great Pixies tunes (a tease of "Bone Machnie" into a raw spin of "Gouge Away.") Nice stuff. I like it when DJs of any sort (straight up or mixmasters) can bridge genres. Great music is great music, whatever the genre, whether its the Pixies, Stravinsky, or William Shatner. Weekend of Surrealism continues: on to the Buddy Holly review/revue tonight!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

No One Will Hear Me, Not Even The Chair

OK, here's how my Weekend of Surrealism is shaking out.

  • Friday: Back in December, when Stella and I and her hip babysitter Talia went to take in the Nutcracker at the Milwaukee Ballet, we got some news that blew us away. Artistic Director Michael Pink stepped on stage to introduce the evening, and to plug upcoming events. I almost wasn't listening because I already have season tickets to the ballet, but then the words "William Shatner…." crept into my ears, as Pink told us all that music from Shatner's collaboration with Ben Folds, "Has Been" was going to be used for Margo Sappington's latest creation. Stella, who doesn't know the significance of "Denny Crane!" (much less "Beam us up") was decidedly embarassed, as Talia and I did our best to contain our thrill and not freak out all the normal people sitting by us. "Ah, but I'm sure they won't be using the Shatner/Henry Rollins duet." Oh yes they will! I later learned. Anyway, our tickets are fro Friday night, we'll have a wonderful seat in the loge, and I still cannot contain myself: William Shatner, Henry Rollins, and the delicious eye candy that is the Milwaukee Ballet all in one night! This is something out of those dreams I get when I eat too much Indian food. And what a gift to Stella, who will be able to tell some attractively geeky guy in college that she wants to impress, "When I was 8 years old, my mom took me to see the ballet with music by William Shatner, Ben Folds, Joe Jackson and Henry Rollins including a Pulp cover!" Does this get me back on the nomination list for Mother of the Year or what?

  • Saturday: My love for William Shatner is at least equaled by Dan "Myles" Mullen's love for Neil Diamond. I loved William Shatner long before it was hip to love William Shatner; Mullen's love for Neil Diamond is pure, since it has never been, and probably never will be, hip to love Neil Diamond. We've even done "I Am I Said" in our band together, yes, we deconstruct it, but Mullen's sincere take on it keeps it from being too jaded. And both our love for Shatner and Diamond is indeed overshadowed by Mark Shurilla's love for Buddy Holly. Every year, Shurilla assembles a band, "The Buddy Holly Review" and plays a tribute to that last Winter Dance Party, and if he doesn't look and sound exactly like the man from Lubbock, his aim is true. I still don't know if "Review" is purposely misspelled for "Revue" or not: is this an academic review of the man's musical impact, or a rave-up revue of Holly's hits? Anyway, this year's review/revue will be Saturday at the Clarion Hotel, right across the airport. Now for the surreal twist:

    Claire Sardina, better known as "Thunder" will be sitting in with them at the Clairon Hotel Saturday night. That's "Thunder", as in "Thunder and Lightning," the local Neil Diamond tribute band, who tragically lost "Lightning" (Sardina's husband, Michael) to complications from a freak head injury last summer. I will be there, with both silver gelatin celluloid and digital, to capture this in all its glory. I might have to go see the Bugs at Club Lulu afterwards to come down from this. I have no idea if/how Myles is going to recover.

  • Sunday: Local psychedelia curmudgeon Lars Kvam is doing his "Last record spin at the Circle A." He's one in a long line of people promoting their next show at the Circle A as their "Last Show at the Circle A" since the place will be closing down. Any time you spend more than 10 minutes with Lars Kvam, its surreal. I mean that in a most complementary way.

Bucks: searching for a bright side to all this cold

Tuesday night Stella and I went to see the Bucks get killed by Dallas. Well, I went into it with no hopes. Stella said, "I hope the Bucks win tonight," and I replied, "Don't count on it, sweetie. They're playing the best team in the league, and they've still got a lot of their good players out on injuries, and .... well.... let's just have some fun. Want some dipping dots?"

So imagine both our surprise when they spent the entire whole first half ahead. The Mavericks were cold, and the Bucks were hot. By halftime, they're leading by 15 -- a comfortable lead. But being the Cubs fan I am, I had this forboding dread that something was going to go wrong. This was too good to be true: they're on a ferocious losing streak and they're going to beat the team with the NBA's best record? Even the anthem sounded good tonight, too good to be true from the Oshkosh West Boys' Choir. They sang it straight up, and the Bucks played straight up.

Then they go into the second half and things are still looking good. And then, as if by coincedince, Charlie Villenueve blows his ankle, and for the rest of the game they just go cold. Colder than those Dippin' Dots Stella and I enjoyed. Colder than my heart every time I have to hear "Ring My Bell" whenever Charlie Bell hits a shot. Cold. For five full minutes they don't score -- I can hear Beavie going "We're never gonna score!" -- and they don't. They end up losing. I don't know why I'm disappointed. I walked into the Bradley Center for a mommy and daughter date fulling expecting them to get killed. But then they had to dangle this possible win in my face. In fact, they were running at a Free-Quarter-Pounder-With-Cheese rate. Not that I had a craving for a Royale With Cheese, but it was still a milestone they never hit. Still, wouldn't it have been nice, for this team beseiged by injury and a recent tough run, for them to beat the best team in the league?

And then last night, I watched on TV as the worst team in the league, the Boston Celtics (you couldn't have told me 10 years ago that the phrases "Worst team in the league" and "Boston Celtics" would ever be in the same sentence together) handily beat the Bucks. Even with all the injuries, but here's my theory: The last time I wrote about this team, I was praising the intensity of Charlie Villenueva. He's out on injury, and now they lose to the Celtics. I'm certain if he was on the parquet last night, they would have pulled it off.

And I'm still not calling for the head of Terry "The White Shadow" Stotts yet. I can't really judge the coaching of a guy who's had to deal with almost all his star players out for a good part of the season. But still, its like Villenueva's injury was the last straw. Hey, at least Illysova was true to form, and once again, hit a 3 the minute he was put in, both Tuesday and Thursday nights, and he's starting to lose that hesitancy I complained about earlier in the season. I still think the injury-ridden stars are a blessing in disguise a bit for the Bucks, as it's giving the bench NBA-intensity experience. Face it, even with all the stars healthy, they just weren't going to be contenders this year, so you might as well get some experience and really deepen the bench.

I have to look at the bright side of things. I'm a Cubs fan. It's in my nature.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Spankin' Treat

I've made a pack of moo (miniature business cards) that feature my recent shots of local musicians. When I hand them out to people who know some of the bands involved, they of course want the ones of people they know and have seen, so it’s a toss up as to which are the favorites. But when I present them to somebody not at all involved with the scene, one of themost popular ones is this,, and a close friend cited "I know nothing about any of these musicians, but these guys are having such a wonderful time, you can see it in their faces, the joy is jumping off the picture." I don't know who's complemented more with a statement like that, me the photographer, or the musicians, The Mighty Lumberhorn.

Boy Howdy
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Saturday afternoon was yet another futile attempt to see them at the Urban Ecology Center. Saturday was Winterfest, and in addition to the music, the UEC had crafts, animal feeding, storytelling in a tipi, and a ceremony throwing the switch on the facility's new solar panels, which will now supply 90% of the building's energy needs. (I was hoping they'd go completely off the grid, but there's always room for improvement.) Still, its proving it can be done, that we can reduce our environmental impact, and I'm sure those panels will pay for themselves in about three weeks. But with all this going on, (and of course, this event was child-friendly so Stella and Sam were with me in full force), I had about enough time to catch maybe two or three songs. "He's 200% Boy," a volunteer smiled at me in parental camraderie while I chased Sammy all over the place. Yes, he is. He got to meet a real live snake, build a baking soda and cornstarch snowman, and look at the city from the top of the observation tower, as well as escape my watchful eye for an excruciating three minutes during which I about had a coronary frantically looking for him. Stella, my little inquisitor, was able to sit in one spot for more than two minutes, and therefore enjoyed deeper versions of Sammy's activities. But did I get to see the band I came to see? Noooooooooo!!!!!! No matter how wonderful a time it was.

Therefore, I really had to accept that I was going to be out late on Sunday (before getting up at 5 the next morning for work), to see the Lumberhorn open up for a band I knew nothing of, The Asylum Street Spankers, and as the Lumberhorn was kind enough to put me on the pest list for that, the word "treat" really resonates here. What a treat that turned out to be, totally worth being a zombie the next day at work.

OK, did some research before I turned up at Vnuk's: The word "Spankers" might make one think they're some kind of dirty blues band (and partially, they are). It turns out that "spanker" is an old country term for a musician who "spanks" their instrument, but the designation is usually reserved for a player who is unusually musically proficient. And that's accurate for this band: Virtuosos, they are. "Asylum street" is a local term for the street many of them met each other busking on in Austin, Texas -- there is indeed an asylum at the end of the block. And it's also accurate: these folks are just a little bit crazy, or they come off as such. Untrimmed facial hair (well, untrimmed hair period), beer bellies, jeans, T-shirts, a touch of "Deliverance" in their overall appearance. But they're not crazy. You listen to their words, you hear their precision playing: they're an island of delightful common sense sanity in a messed up world.

Musically, they pull off this NPR House Band feel -- they could very well be the Prairie Home Companion band (well, that's PHC as directed by Altman), except they don't need Garrison Keillor. They have their own stories to tell, and most of them get told in song. They're all over the map and all over the 20th century: from western swing to bluegrass to delta blues. Christina Marrs' voice recalls everybody from Peggy Lee to (as one reviewer put it) Betty Boop, or even Marilyn Monroe's sexy little girl squeal. Except, picture Marilyn singing the blues. Frontman Wammo (apparently that is his real name) sweet tenor works on everything from his smartaleck country rap to his cynical ballads, and you can hear his background as a slam poet come through strong. They were brilliantly funny and touching. My face hurt from smiling so much.

Right now, the "hit" on the internet is their take on "Tie A Yellow Ribbon", changing the refrain to "Put a Magnetic Ribbon on that SUV," and while it's magnificent parody, I'm hoping that people will see it on YouTube, but then investigate them further. Because although "Magnetic Ribbon" is a hoot, its not representative of who they are, really. They're not a joke band. They're drop-dead, seriously brilliant musicians who just happen to be funny, and transcend any and all genres. You don't even have to hear them sing about their favorite records (this was the topic of their closing song), to know that in addition to all the Americana music they do so well, they love their rock and rap and punk and country (they're from Austin, after all), and they know their pop culture. Like Eat the Mystery two nights before, they are not stuck in any one era, they know exactly who they are and what year this is. I owe the Lumberhorn big time for turning me on to them.

Back to the Lumberhorn, who opened for them. All the promos I got from them (and that was the ONLY way I knew this performance was happening, BTW, get with the promo program, Vnuk's!) sincerely lauded the Spankers as the greatest band ever, and while I knew nothing of them before this, it was clear that the Lumberhorn held them in the highest esteem and were excited (perhaps a touch nervous) at getting to open for their heroes. That's always a double-edged sword: being a band that gets to open for clear legends, but having to impress (or at least not piss off) the audience who clearly came to see the headliner. Not to worry, guys: you held your own. Boy Howdy has a great, clear snicker to his vocals, and twists a lyrical phrase to put the right emphasis on the words that end up sticking in the audience's craw, whether's he's wondering out loud about What Would Jesus Drive or bitching about that armpit of America he grew up in, Northwest Indiana. Heather's fiddlin' is effortlessly right up there with the headliners' musical precision and that leaves her plenty of room to fill in anything from vocals to jokes. BJ's narrative storytelling is approaching (speaking of) Garrison Keillor's elegant timing, throwing in a $10 word every now and then, precisely when its needed, to dress up the rest of his ten cent story, pausing to gauge response, and continue on. It's humorously hip and cool while being lovingly warm at the same time, as I've already written about the whole band. And how did I know it wasn't just polite clapping from the audience? The telling fan afterwards, who approached BJ and asked the question every local musician delights in hearing: "You guys were great, are you from around here?" Because as we all know, nobody who's any good could possibly come from your own hometown.

Photos to follow in a few weeks when I get in the darkroom. The stage was too dark to shoot ISO 400 digital -- so I pushed some film pretty far -- we'll see how that goes. Before the Spankers started their set, they respectfully requested that people turn off their cell phones, and keep the smoking to the back room, to my joy. The only reason they needed amplifiers was to fill the large room: they were about as unplugged as a band could get in both physics and ambience. I would have been crucified if I'd attempted flash, and I would have deserved it for ruining the atmosphere with a tacky burst of light. There was enough light coming from their souls as it was.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

New Millenium Cabaret

Eat The Mystery Cigar
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
I was completely looking forward to this show, if for no other reason than the charming typo on the email I got from Paul Setser advertising this gig and giving directions to the Circle A Cafe: "At the corner of Chambers and Weill." Well, Weil Street only has one L in it, but when talking about a band that evokes the name of the composer of The Threepenny Opera, you have to wonder if it was truly a typo or a Freudian slip.

But to say that Eat the Mystery is a retro, nostalgic act would be a lazy mistake. These people know exactly what year it is, who they are, and where they live, and its not Berlin, 1932, though they've been there. No, they are definitely a Riverwest Band: Angie's merrywidow bustier reveals her riotgrrl tattoos all over, her worldweary makeup caked on her face, her faux european accent slipping in and out while telling stories and such. Paul Setser, jack of a million styles, looks like he feels the most at home I've ever seen him: theatrical, funny, cynical, and about as worldweary as a man can get without sounding whiny. They're backed by a drummer who looks like he belongs in some kind of hipper than thou punk band, but sounds like he's found his niche here, with a drum kit consisting of things he seemed to have pulled out of local dumpsters. The horn section has delighfully seen it all before, and they handle their duties professionally and joyfully.

Drinking songs, dreadful songs, we're-partying-like-its-1939: the world's gonna end someday soon so why not another round? Angie's doing everything she can to shock this jaded crowd -- she even straps on a papier-mache penis while singing about all the condos going up just south of the artsy neighborhood they all inhabit. But we're not shocked. We've come to expect this. We laugh, we order another drink, we stick dollar bills in her bustier while Setser leads the band on a musical hall instrumental. We raise our glasses to Anna Nicole, we raise our glasses to ourselves. Angie lights up a cigar, dons goggles, and reads the paper and finally finds something to shock us with. The papier mache penis isn't shocking, the other props she brandishes isn't shocking, but a routine news story from "the normal world" -- that's making us all whince.

And the music -- the most precision out-of-control carnival of melancholy joy I've heard in a long time, where everybody in the room is a friend. You don't know whether to laugh or cry when Angie brays on their last song "Is that All There Is?" I certainly hope not.

My only complaint is that I was torn as regards the room. This is music that requires intimacy, and intimate is certainly one of the words that springs to mind regarding the Circle A. It also requires audience participation, and it requires you see and hear them, because Eat The Mystery is a visual and aural experience that demands and then rewards your complete attention. I'm torn between wanting to tell the people around me to "shut up, I want to hear this," or to join in the singalongs and hum countermelodies outloud myself. I'm torn between telling the guy in front of me "Down in front!" or to stand up along with him because I want to dance and whirl out of control. In a larger place, this wouldn't be an issue, because there would be room for both. But I'm also afraid of losing a bit of that intimacy. The thing is, though, I think Angie and Paul and company are sort of like all your stuff in kitchen cabinets: there's no such thing as empty. If you get more kitchen cabinets, you will just get more stuff to fill them. If you put Eat They Mystery in a larger room, they will fill it with magic, magic that is not only suited for this day and age, but almost a prescrption for it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Back n' Sync with the Pretty Bucks

Well, maybe it's us. Maybe we had to show up for a Bucks game to get them to win. A combination of illness, cancelled games, sitter unavailability, etc., kept us away-- and apparently them winless -- for much too long. Although, much as we wanted that victory, we entered the Bradley Center with much trepidation last night, wondering if we were going to watch another loss. It was all over Ruben Patterson's face when he wiped out against the basketpost after a near missed shot, just him banging his head against the post in emotional, not physical, agony, with a look on his face that seemed to scream "Can't we get a freaking break?"

And early in the game, while I still wasn't sure if they were going to pull this off, all the promo things I would normally gloss over were annoying the crap out of me. I've seen them too many times this season, and if they were winning, I'd be OK, but they seem like desperate attempts to rave up the fans, when the Bucks are at a point that you're going to have to prove to this crowd that getting all raved up is going to result in a payoff. First off, there's the "Countdown to game time" that is off the REAL clock by a second or two. So already they're getting us out of sync with reality. Then, the (I timed it) Six miniute and 42 second montage from anthem's end to opening tip off just feels that much more excruciatingly long, drawn out, and lame. I've realized that whoever is in charge of incidental music for the Bucks used to hang out at Papagaio's in the late 80s a lot, and just got stuck there musically. And every other time Andrew Bogut hits a shot, they play Men At Work's "We come from the land down under" chorus, like it was the freaking Australian national anthem. What, has Australia produced no other band, and no other hit other than some terrible 1983 reggae ripoff? They cannot find one AC/DC song for Andrew to shoot to? Worse, every time Charlie Bell hits a shot -- every freaking time -- they play Ring My Bell. Do they know how annoying "Ring My Bell" is? "Ring My Bell" was the record I brought to Disco Demolition Night , that song irritated me so much and 25+ years later, guess what? It's stillirritating. And I have since shunned my anti-disco ways, embracing KC and the Sunshine Band like the middle aged, premenstrual crabbyass bitch that I am, but still, "Ring My Bell" should have been demolished in 1979 and never heard from again. And how do you suppose Charlie Bell must feel? Yeah, right, I bet hearing that song every freaking time he hits a shot really encourages him to go for Kareem Abdul Jabbar's record, like Michael Redd broke earlier this season. (Note to Charlie Bell: Michael will assure you that breaking records of league legends STILL won't get you on the all-star team.). And Charlie Bell had a great night last night, ensuring I'm hearing Anita Ward's tinny little voice in my head all the way home. This needs to be stopped. Bell, keep hitting those shots. Mr. I-Wish-I-Was-Bobby-From-Papagaio, get a CD player. There were great crowd-pleaseing songs made after 1989, you know.

Anthem given to us by somebody from the Special Olympics. Allright, people, yeah, he was a little pitchy, but this crowd could have cheered louder for him. After all, despite the fact that he's got cognitive disabilities, he sang it with feeling, hit both "Rockets Red Glare" AND "laaaaaand of the free" almost effortlessly, and didn't do any annoying showboating with it. Fine rendition. The only person who could have possibly shown him up tonight was local bluesman Steve Cohen, sitting in with Streetlife and sounding like Steve Winwood crooning out Billy Preston covers. Special Olympics kids kicked out some terrific halftime hoops as well -- they're clearly being coached well, playing well-organized defense.

The game itself -- exciting and tight, all the way until the last few minutes, when we were assured of our free Royales With Cheese for a 100 point Bucks win. Nice defense, good hustle all the way. The Young Turk, Ersan Ilyasova, still needs to get his chops warmed up, but he's always good for hitting a 3 the minute he hits the court, and he's got lots of piss and vinegar that just needs some direction. And all of the Bucks need to up that free throw percentage. Still, they could have let Orlando walk all over them and they didn't. Instead, they gave us and themselves a much needed win, despite Anita Ward. Ugh. That song is still going in my head.

Which is why I'm closing by going back to whining about asethetics. I've come to the conclusion that the players in the locker room get all jealous when one of them has been identified as a potential heartthrob, because they probably rib him to death, and then to make it stop, he starts putting on the uglies. Look at Andrew Bogut. Good looking fella. Well, that's when he's not got that ridiculous excuse for a beard. There are only two kinds of men who should grow beards: 1) Men who actaully CAN and 2) Men who look good in them when they do. Bogut, you are neither. That sagebrush you've got on your face just makes you look like you need to wash up. And that thin headband thingy, its, its, its just wrong. Pulls your hair up in the back and in front makes you look like you're wearing one of those hairnets food service guys have to wear. Have a word with your stylist about this. And don't tell me you don't have one. You looked sharp as a tack during exhibition season. And this isn't a Bucks thing, either. Former Marquette dreamboat Travis Diener, now playing for Orlando -- what's up with those dreadful, "I'm gonna eat seven-legged transgendered deer from Fond du Lac" sideburns? What, is Shaq giving your grief for all the ladyfolk you're attracting? I'm worried about this "Don't hate me because I'm pretty" trend. There's girls waving a "Charlie Villanueva - Be My Valentine" sign. Charlie, don't let the locker room guys get to you on this. You're looking sharp and playing sharp. Don't blow it with a stupid fashion statement.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Random Ramblings during the Super Bowl

Lemonie Fresh and Carson.
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
There's a nasty virus going around, and I've got it. That's why this blog's been pretty silent lately. I can either chill, or write in a blog, and I've been choosing chill. As in, curled up in a fetal position with the chills.

After the Colts blew their extra point, thus blowing my chance of realistically winning my work pool, I decided to log on and at least ramble on.

  • Friday night, when I thought I only had a head cold, I ventured out to see Lemonie Fresh's last DJ gig at the Circle A tavern. Word is out (though not officially) that the place will be closing down, so now everybody's next appearance there is being billed as their "last appearance" there. Sometime or another I and that girl are going to do a DJ gig together, where I don't know. But she has an amazingly broad record collection, and the elegant taste to spin it well. Carson's behind the bar (and muscling in on this shot of Lemonie) and it turns out I'm the third person that day to ask him the question that's on everybody's minds: "Well, with this joint closing, what of the Tasting Room?" Naaah, he replied to me. If (and that's a huge IF) he reopens that place, it won't have music, and will cater to the upscale yuppies that have taken over the corner of Water and Humboldt. OK. Fine.

  • So because of this dreadful virus, I had to miss the Riverwest Aces last night (Saturday) at this same establishment, who are comprised of Blaine Schultz, Paul Setser, Jeff Lauwasser and a fourth guy I didn't recognize from the flyer Blaine emailed me. I'm sure they were good. I'll get a Setser fix next Friday when Eat the Mystery plays. I am really looking forward to that. Punk cabaret. I am really in the mood for this. Begone, foul virus! I'm needing some degenerate caberet! And you had better STAY gone, so I can catch the Mighty Lumberhorn at Winterfest at the Urban Ecology center the following day. (Health will tell if I can see them open for the Asylum Street Spankers at -- get this -- Vnuk's! -- the following evening. I have to work at my real job the next day, you know.)
  • As I have watched a total of three minutes of football this season, I'm totally disinterested in this game, and the big hot commercial, the first ad after the first break, was so underwhelming I headed right in here. I'll wait for Prince at halftime. I'm busy digesting a delicious thai meal from Bangkok House, a great little Thai joint in the middle of a strip mall (aren't they all in strip malls?) in Cudahy. I remember when they first opened up: "There's going to be Thai in Cudahy! There is a God!" When you have a head full of snot, nothing clears that crap out of your system like a curry cranked up to 10, washed down with a steaming bowl of Tom Yum. Yum indeed.
  • Myspace can really suck. Its a good idea and all, but now I know why so many IT types really aren't into it. Besides being an aesthetic disaster, the code is easily compromisable. I can't get it to load on Safari anymore. I've had to download a totally different browser (Firefox seems to get the job done), and clear the cache and cookies every time I log in just to check my account. Wow, I'm glad my main contact isn't there. Figures. Right when I start to understand what the big deal about myspace is, I also start to understand what all the complaining about myspace is about also. I google and yahoo searched till the cows came home, and all that came up was a litany of history of code breaches and unresolved errors. Wow, there's a lot of bitterness out there about myspace, and had I placed all my eggs in that basket, I'd be bitter too! I'll report back here if "customer service" ever gets back to me. Not counting on it. After all, its not like I paid for this. You get what you pay for, people.
  • Finally, sonafabitch, but its cold out there. You'd think living in Wisconsin I'd be used to this, but I'm not. Hoo boy! Below is a photo of the Allen Bradley Clock and Temperature tower. If you're not a Milwaukeean, you probably don't know the history. The clock is the largest 4-faced clock in the world -- bigger that Big Ben, even. (Big Ben is not a 4-faced clock, either.) The company has since become Rockwell International, but us cheeseheads still refer to it as A-B. When the factory was built at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, most of the polish immigrants who lived in the surrounding neighborhood didn't have electricity, so the clock (and later temperature) was intended as a "service" so that folks would know what time it was and thus not be late for work. The neighborhood now is mostly Hispanic, but that clock is still called "The Polish Moon" of Milwaukee. Anyway, this is the view I had from my office last Friday morning. 3 Degrees! Brrrrrrrrr!!!!! Freaking BRRRRRRRRR! Part of me wanted the temperature to read -1 because that would have made a more poignant shot. But, ahhh, 3 degrees is cold enought. BRRRRRRR! FReaking BRRRRRRR! (And my posting of this picture sure brought out more legend telling, click on it to read the comments.)

Allen confirms it's cold.  Brrrrrrrr!
  • Sooo, as the song goes, Gimme a bottle 'o Nyquil! For the restful sleep my body needs, it's got an analgesic, antespetic.... and an antiiiiiiiiiiiiiihistamine! But, read your labels people! Nyquil Cough doesn't have an analgesis or antihistimine in it! So I was curled up in a fetal ball, thinking I had some acetometiphren in me and this was just a stubborn fever, until i finally pulled my trembling ass out of bed and read the label, and realized I was going to have to pound a dose of ibuprofen on my own. Why would anybody take Ny-ANTHING if they only had a cough? That's what Robutussin is for! No, you reach for Nyquil because that's how the song goes. I needed the analgesic and the antihistimine way more than I needed the dex. I'm so ticked off I could lead a consumer revolt. I feel denied.