Saturday, March 29, 2008

Well at least the daffodils are coming up

this year's first daffodils
Originally uploaded by V'ron
I need to whine.

  • The Badgers suck. Not only did they lose to Davidson, they effed up my entire pool. I know that as an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I should be used to crap like this, but still.

  • The Bucks suck. Stella and Brian went to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bobblehead night last night, they re-dedicated Oscar's number at halftime, the place was crawling with hoops legends, STella was in the audience (they tend to win when she goes) and they still lost. I know that as a Cubs fan, I should be used to crap like this, but still.

  • My foot sucks. Get this. I'm coming out of the Y on Friday morning after a lackluster workout, and I drop something out of my gym bag, and it turns out to be a bent safety pin that goes through my boot and into the ball of my foot! So I was so busy all day Friday that I couldn't get to urgent care until Friday night. The foot's OK I guess, but I still went to urgent care because that's when I realized, "Hey, I haven't had a tetanus shot in years." I know it's probably nothing, but still.

  • This weather sucks. It's April and we're still getting snowSTORMS measured in inches. I know that as a pretty much lifelong resident of the upper midwest, I should be used to crap like this, but still.

  • The economy sucks. There's a pile of people in my life who are suddenly feeling the effects of it right now, and that pretty much diminishes the suckiness of everything else above. I see all these ads for elections by people who have absolutely no clue of the daily effects on regular people of all their stupidass trickle down theories and decisions, and I know we're in the middle of a "recession" or a "economic downturn" or whatever the hell Anderson Cooper wants to call it, but still.

On the bright side:
  • F/i is playing tonight, at the Circle A, with Darrell "Da Braiz" Martin spinning discs afterwards. Since this is a Circle A show, that means there's plenty of time to catch other great acts tonight as well. Guido's Racecar is at Puddler's Hall tonight, the Five Card Studs are at the Twisted Fork, Eat The Mystery is at the Cactus Club for ATLATL's EP release party, the Sleepers are at Club Lulu .. there is no shortage of good tunes.

  • The Milwaukee Ballet just released their program schedule for next year, and among other things (Sleeping Beauty and other nice stuff), Margo Sappington and her masterpiece, "Common People" is coming back! That's right! Ballet to the words of William Shatner and music of Ben Folds, as only can be performed in Milwaukee. I want to see this again and again and again. Last time around, the audience left all their preconceived notions at the door, and gave the Shat a deserved standing O, and I expect nothing less. I RAN to the Milwaukee Ballet ticket office to renew my season subscription upon hearing this news. Now, if Michael Pink can reprise Dracula in some upcoming season, my joy would be complete. In the meantime, next Friday, the winner of last year's Genesis Dance competition, Nelly von Bommell will be presenting her commissioned work at the Pabst, and Stella, myself, and Talia the Hip Babysitter will be in the audience.

  • Loblolly has a show with Floor Model on Saturday the 12th at Zad's, and this makes me happy.

  • The snow is clearing, I had a teriffic bike ride this morning, and hey, the daffodils (and tulips for that matter) are poking their way through the mulch and last fall's dead leaves. I can't remember when I've so looked forward to spring and summer.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Very Nice Easter Ramblings

You know, you can get all pissy about the weather, or you can take the ball and run with it, and that's exactly what my neighbors down the block did. Look at this thing! It looks like the Trojan Rabbit from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." If you're going to have snow on Easter, this is the way to go.

So here are some Easter ramblings, in no particular order:
  • Didn't go out on Friday. Or anytime this weekend. Friday I had the afternoon off work, and it's just as well that i got home before the snow really kicked in. Pretty much any band that had a gig Friday night ended up cancelling, and if they didn't, they probably played in front of two people (namely the bartenders) so it's just as well. There's no music in Good Friday services, and there shant be any music on Good Friday, period.
  • There was plenty of good stuff to see on Saturday, but we opted to stay in and just chill, and catch the annual Watching of the Charlton. Somehow I find something new in "The Ten Commandments" every time I see it. This time, it's the scene where Nefertari (we all know it's misspelled) and Sephora are icy cold to each other (this happens when the ex meets up with the current girl), until Sephora pretty much admits to Nefertari, "Look, he pretty much has been ignoring me ever since that whole burning bush incident. You're not missing much, girlfriend. Trust me."

  • Duke @ The Tournament. OK, raise your hands if you had Duke at least making it to next weekend. OK? Now raise your hands if, even if this pulverized your bracket, you were pulling for Belmont to put Coach K in his smug little place, and kind of said, "Well everybody else's bracket is effed if Duke loses, so it's OK." Belmont? Who the hell is Belmont? They almost took out Duke, that's who the hell Belmont is! And let me tell you about WVU, who DID take out Duke -- very cool campus tucked into the mountains of Morgantown, almost near the panhandle. I spent two glorious months of my life there, and I'm happy for them. And my bracket isn't all that messed up. I'm actually leading my league. Whoa. Thanks, WVU.

  • Marquette @ The Tournament. Brian and I had them losing to Stanford anyway, but I'm watching that game and I don't want to win a bracket like this. Ugh. Would those sportscaster guys ever SHUT UP over those Lopez twins? OK, a pair of 7 ft twins with a last name you don't normally hear in hoops, OK, it's a story. A lucratively heartwarming story. Does this mean every time any of the Golden Eagles so much as looked at them they needed to get called a foul, but Brook (who the hell names their son Brook?) and Robin could plow right over them and it's OK. MU could have played a bit better in the clutch, but by the third quarter I just wanted to smack Brook and Robin and the announcers (who clearly favored Stanford, being they're from California, a much more lucartive TV market than Milwaukee) and pretty much everybody who ever went to Stanford. Sheesh.

  • The Badgers @ The Tournament We've got them in the Final Four. That's our big gamble, we know, but we think they can do it. And Michigan State! Will this be the year the Big Ten doesn't stink up the joint?

  • Finally, Davidson @ The Tournament, crowned this year's Cindarella. And who doesn't love her? First they beat Gonzaga, whose cindarellac crown has been getting rusty anyway, and then, they step on Georgetown, a program I've historically hated almost as much as I hate Duke. (I'd root for G'Town in a bout against Duke, but that's about it.) So everybody in the country except Badger fans are going to be silently cheering them on, the way I silently cheered Belmont on.

  • I did it. Despite the snow this weekend, I still got out the bike and went for my annual Easter Sunday shakedown cruise. As long as I stayed on streets, its was a great ride. It wasn't all that cold, and it was sunny, and I had a great ol time. Came home and napped, watched some tournament, giggled with the kids as they got all sugar high off their Easter Bunny booty, made a delicious pork roast for dinner, and watched the Simpsons and Family Guy. That's the kind of family we are.

  • Personal band news: First, Brian's band, F/i has a gig at the Circle A this Saturday night, March 29. They don't play out all that often, and this is a lineup you won't want to miss: Brian on guitar, Grant Richter on electronics, Rick Franecki on Guitar, and then Couch Flambeau's Jay Tiller and Rusty Olson doing a bit of role reveral in the rhythm section -- Jay will be on drums and Rusty will take on the bass. I've heard them rehearse and trust me, you will want to get to the Circle A early to get a seat. "I will only bring one gong into the Circle A," says Tiller, mainly because that's about all you're going to be able to fit in there. Ear protection suggested. I have these wonderful high-end filters I normally use at Formula 1 races that work nicely.

  • Oh, and MY BAND, Loblolly, will be playing a show on April 12 at Zad's Roadhouse with a band that Sixthstation regulars know is one of my favorites -- Floor Model. Get ready for a night of psychotronic, tight-ass, snotty and well-crafted punk, garage, and psychedelia. How snotty will we be? Antihistamines suggested. I have a prescription for extra-strength Claritin that works nicely.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Well, there's always The Tournament

Sarcasm on State Street
Originally uploaded by V'ron
I wrote this last year, but nobody really cares how the Bucks are playing these days because the Tournament is going on, and since they are pretty much stinking up the Bradley Center, we should be scouting the college talent for the great draft pick we should have a good chance at getting. Brian and I have the Badgers going to the Final Four in our pool, and we're pragmatic March Madness pool divers, so that should tell you something.

Lots of "should" here tonight, I have to admit. As in, the Bucks should have won last night. They went into the 4th quarter up by something like 15 and I went to go take a whiz, and when I got back, they're down by 10. What the hey? We left. We couldn't take it any more. We get in the car and we're listening and they've caught back up, to be down by only 6, but it's less than a minute to go and, and, and, well, you know the story. At least we can have a sense of humor about this. These people pictured on State Street certainly do.

But this is all starting to annoy me. The night started off innocuous enough. A rather madrigal version of the anthem was delivered by the Waukesha West High School Choir -- very complex arrangement that they pulled off, while retaining the drinking song roots of the song. At halftime, they re-dedicated Brian Winters' retired number and that was nice to see him, silver fox that he's become, back in Milwaukee, along with pictures of him playing in the old days.

Then I turn around and there's Andrew Bogus, looking sharp enough in a sportscoat and hair grown out to a flattering cut (for once), but, what's this? Jeans on the court? I guess NBA Dress Code is getting relaxed. But they need to bring it back. Maybe not outlaw the jeans so much as put a pox on just plain old fashion faux pas. White loafers. With a matching white belt. That's pretty darn heinous, and don't be counting the days till the Indy 500, because those white loafers will continue to be heinous even after Memorial Day. How many times have I told him to have a few words with his stylis>. A few choice words. Jesus.

Yes, I'm talking about all this crap because I just can't bear to talk about a game they should have won against a team with an even worse record than them. Cannning Larry Harris at least is a message that finally, finally, somebody is realizing that some kind of change has to happen, but I'm waiting to comment until I see what the alternative is. I've seen "change" before at the Bradley Center, same as it ever was.

Boy, I'm really a bummer tonight? I'd better stop now. Easter's coming up, I've already broken in my bike so I'll be ready for my annual shakedown cruise, and the kids are off Friday and I have a half day of work. At least I have something to look forward to.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish I had a....Chef

Noah Tyson of Highlonesome
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Oh Jeez. I won't even go into that cliche to describe this weekend.

The kids had the afternoon off on Friday, and Brian had some errands to run, so I did something I've never done before: I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, letting Stella show me around. Why don't they just call this one what it is -- The Museum of Dioramas. Really, I felt like I'd been transported to a 3-D representation of my 5th grade Social Studies textbook. According to my peers, this place has changed very little since they were kids, and there's something to be said for that: it's nice to have some kind of museum baseline.

We opted not to go to Body Worlds. I would have probably enjoyed it, but it would have been money wasted on Sammy, and Stella is hit or miss when it comes to things that she potentially might find gross. So instead we did "The Alps" at the IMAX -- a well-done documentary about this guy whose father died attempting a climb of the north face of the Aiger, and this guy's quest to "avenge" the mountain by climbing it himself. OK, I guess I don't "get" mountain climbing, because if I had watched my dad tumble to his death climbing a particularly ferocious route up the Aiger, I would probably have to conclude, "Well, I guess the lesson learned here is that maybe that's not a good way to climb the north face of the Aiger." Stella agreed. We're adventuresome, but pragmatic. There was a part in the movie where one of his companions ends up having too much of a hurt back , so instead of climbing back down, she gets airlifted down. Again, Stella and I thought that looked like fun. OK, OK, I admit it. We didn't get it. But the IMAX film was way cool anyway.

Got the kids home, and then ventured out to the BBC to see three bands, 1956, Chief, and a young outfit called The Black Coats. They seemed well-named enough: as I trudged up the stairs I heard them deconstructing Johnny Cash, and afterwards turned out some seattle-sounding power tuned to match their flannel shirted stage presence. Between that annoying drainpipe pole smack in the middle of the stage and all the flannel, I felt like I was at some house party in the UWM Student Ghetto or something like that. Once again, a band that didn't even hang out to see the two bands that they shared a bill with. Is this what the kids are about these days? Oh well, their loss.

Because the Call of the Chef was sounding -- Chief, whose name was horribly typoed in the paper, came out like gangbusters and served up the rock, as they are wont to do. I could go on, but why? Sixthstation readers know I'm a fan, and the crowd finally got it and thrashed along. They have this down pat, and the only critique I could give at this point is to continue to work on new material, because the challenge of this stuff is to keep it fresh. Still, they were unrelenting as usual, right down to Tishler smashing his guitar at the end.

I had an epiphany during 1956's set-- I finally realized what makes them so good. It's not the complex rhythm or the good arrangements. Lots of bands have that and they're boring. No, they're hooky, and "hook-laden" isn't a term you usually associate with brooding, almost-prog bands like this. In fact, the hookieness is what saves them from being just another brooding, almost prog (but too hip to be fully prog) band. I like them because they are this cross between intelligent pop (which I hate because it's just a contradiction) and brooding emo (which i could live without), but they seem to have sucked the best of each and created their own genre. I find myself actually whistling their songs out loud, that's how hooky they are.

Saturday was the Riverwest Co-op Benefit at Linneman's, and that was one mixed crowd, I'll tell ya. I got there just in time to see Highlonesome, a well-named band of countrified folkies led by Noah Tyson, who throws down a sincerity to his music. Tyson barely remembers me, but I knew him as a 3-year old, and there's things about him that haven't changed a bit: you always knew there was something going on behind those wide eyes, but you weren't quite sure what, and that's how I felt Saturday night. They were all good, but I think he's got more to give.

Dr Chow was up next, and given that they're a rockin' band to begin with, they seemed to have unleashed a jones in this crowd that wanted to mosh. And so they did. I never pictured these guys in front of a mosh pit, but there they were. Spotted in the crowd, moshing to old hits like "Too Much to Dream" was Vince Bushell, not looking one bit out of place with the younger hippies.

Closing out the night was 3/4ths of the 357 String band, and while they were good, you could tell something was missing, and it wasn't just the sound of the bass player, Rich Ness, whose injured finger prevented him from playing that night. It was later revealed that not only does he have this physically painful issue, but he's taking it on without health insurance, and that's fiscal pain. I kind of wished this was a benefit for him. It was announced that 10% of the concessions from the evening would go toward his fund, but uh, what's that going to get? A fresh pack of band--aids? If he's cut off the tip of his finger, this guy needs some serious cabbage to get this taken care of. I dropped some cash in the buckets being passed around, and I hope it helps. At least it was clear that this was a community that cared, and there's a lot to be said for that.

After a long bike ride Sunday, I finally got my Irish on at McBob's, where I finally tasted and approved of the darn good corned beef I'd heard so much tell about. Plus, it was finally the place to shoot McTavish with Irish paraphernalia as a backdrop instead of some Jagermeister sign or something like that. Always a treat to see them, because they always evoke this barroom drinking and celebrating and commiserating spirit. They actually have fun doing this. Roni Allwaise from Guido's Racecar stopped up on stage for a few songs, but this was Paul Cotter and Mark Shurilla's show. Spotted in the audience: Jazz/Blues diva Deirdre Fellner, Marlavous Marla, and a few other musicians to boot. This was their third show in a row, but they seemed to be none the worse for wear, and it was a fine way to end a weekend.

So, tonight, as I write this, the McTavishes are at JJ McAuliffe's in Racine, and Dr Chow is at O'Keefe's House of Hamburg, and I have to work tomorrow. So, I'll have a green beer, and hit the hay, and be ready to watch the Bucks tomorrow night, remembering that I had a brush with greatness today-- Yi Jianlian was right in front of me at the express lane at Pick N Save! He looked healthy, and maybe he'll start tomorrow. We'll see. Over and out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Get Yr Irish On

So Stella and I are in the car, listening to the Boogie Bang on WMSE last weekend, and they were talking about current and upcoming events, and the pointed out one religious-based event where one could "get their church on." We couldn't stop laughing at the concept of gettin' one's church on: "Yo! Shout Out to God! Cos Jay-Z the C, You the >Man!"

It's just as incongrous as me, a polish-slovak eastern european mutt dealing with this whole St Patrick's Day weekend thang. So, in the spirit of my homies at the Boogie Bang, I hereby present you with a list of ways you can Get Your Irish On that features bands with people in them I know. There's no way this list is at all complete, and for those of you polacks like me, you'll note that not all have a completely Irish theme:

Start Thursday night with McTavish and the Steel Bonnets. My bass player Miles is in both of them, but he doesn't play bass in either. He plays guitar and mandolin in both, and McTavish is the reason i even know the guy. Plus, he has the most Irish-sounding name out of the bunch (Miles' real name, his Christian name, whoops, his Catholic saint's name is Danny C Mullen) so there. However, Dan Smars is part of the Steel Bonnets, and he's the sweetest sounding Jim Morrison impersonator I know.

Friday night: yeah, you could do McTavish again. Or you could go to the BBC and see some Rock. Chief is there, along with 1956 and some other band I honestly don't know a heckofalot about, but I trust the sensibilities of somebody who put Chief and 1956 together to bring in an appropriate third band. Regular readers know I'm one of Chief's biggest fans, and I'm a recent convert to the 1956 crew, so if i'm not exhausted, I'll be there.

Saturday night, there's a benfit for the Riverwest Co-Op at Linnemans with Dr Chow's Love Medicine, and a couple of bands that have been on my "I really have to get out and see them" list -- the 357 String Band and Highlonesome. 357 String band, if they play, will be doing so with a handicap -- bass player Rich Ness apparently cut off the tip of his finger. Kinda makes it hard to play the bass, so we'll see how that comes out. Oh well, when that all heals Ness should remember that Jerry Garcia still made millions. If I wasn't there to cheer them on (as well as my DH), however, I'd be headin' over to County Clare for a sexy, sexy Saint Patrick's Weekend with the Five Card Studs. They tried this last year -- and County Clare canceled at the last minute for a more traditionally Irish act. This year, I think they're getting it right.

Sunday night is another chance -- after you get your church on of course, to catch McTavish -- this time at McBob's. Miles says that McBob's has the best corned beef in town. Well, those of us who like to take lunch at Jake's might argue, but I'll give Miles this, McBob's probably has the best corned beef made by Irishmen.

I have to work next week, and I still don't have the 10 years under my belt at The New Place to be able to stumble in hungover on Tuesday, so i won't be doing St Pat's day on the actual day itself. But if you have the need to put down a few more shots of Jameson's, Dr Chow will be at the House of Hamburg. I know that doesn't sound very Irish, but this is at O'Keefe's House of Hamburg, and that should be enough. You could get your Irish on first thing in the morning with Athas, which features sixthstation favorite Heather (from the Mighty Lumberhorn) on fiddle for "St Patrick's Breakfast" at the Trinity Irish Pub, especially if you want to be a purist about all this. And you can stay there until the evening, when you're all Irished out, and end the entire holiday with, once again, those ambassadors of leisurely entertainment, the Five Card Studs. Read that again: on St Patrick's Night, The Five Card Studs, at the Trinity Irish Pub. Maybe the Celts are starting to understand: after getting yr Irish on, maybe people just want to get it on, and that's what the Studs are all about.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

There's something sticking in my eye. Oh well.

wistful blues
Originally uploaded by V'ron
It's a little late to gush about the Bucks' game last week that Brian and I witnessed -- especially since it was such a gush-worthy night:Bucks Win! Bucks Win! And the Bucks weren't the only winners Wednesday night. First off, we were in the right section such that when they ran the coffee cup race, our cup won. So i now have in my pocket a coupon for a free cup of organic coffee from Open Pantry. I have no clue where the closest Open Pantry is. (Wait, I have no clue where there's an Open Pantry anywhere in Milwaukee. Oh well.) Then, later in the night Brian and I made a brief appearance on the jumbotron, to our relief, NOT during anything like the "Kiss Cam" or whatever. Also, since the Bucks won triumphantly, my ticket was good for a Royale With Cheese Thursday, which I didn't use. And besides Charlie V having a good night, it was indeed a Royale With Cheese night -- Royal Ivey to be exact. Seems with a few injuries on the court, Ivey really stepped it up.

But all good things must come to an end and Brian took Sammy to his first Bucks game "in the big stadium" today, and it was probably a good first game for SammyL his 4-year old attention span didn't last past halftime, and the way the Bucks were playing, neither was Brian's. Oh well.

Despite all this, there was plenty of goodness in Milwaukee this weekend, at least musically. Friday night I took in the 2nd CD release show for Longacre, a country-tinged jam band with sweet-voiced Claire Chin on vocals.

Time for another SUPER MASSIVE FULL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: half the people in this band are coworkers at that new job I've been at for three weeks now. Two of 'em have input into my performance review. One of 'em runs the company. So there you go. At least you know my bias.

OK, back to the review. Chin has a very unassuming stage presence. While she writes a majority of the material, and she's the lead singer, she's positioned at the side of the stage, standing behind her keyboards. Then she sings and that unassuming persona becomes authoritative and strong -- like she knows the songs themselves and her performance of them is good.

Behind her is a team of crack musicians who drift in and out of their songs like a car drifting in and out of counties on a long road trip. That's the overall feel this band projects, like you're driving on the interstate in the midwest (but you've just left the metropolitan area.) They come in, establish a groove (and it's a very rhythmic groove, thanks to Damien Strigens -- who has a chordal musician's sensibilities -- on the drums) and then Chin comes in and wails a shoegazer's blues with a controlled soprano. Then they drift out of it. There's clearly a metropolitan base to it evidenced by elements of world music (the guy on bongos and other various percussion helps with that), but these people aren't afraid to let a little country feel in without sounding nu-country. Good sad melancholy stoner music.

Like all music of this genre, they sometimes hit the danger of going on a little too long, but that's always going to be a risk when you're doing this stuff. Still, it works. I stayed for the whole set not to suck up to management, but because i did indeed enjoy it and will make it a point to see them again. I'd like to see them on a bill with the Aimless Blades, and, say, Juniper Tar.

Anyway, however, music with titles like "Bad Day" kind of predicted the way the rest of the weekend was going to go. Saturday morning I dropped my camera and I'm going to have to send it in to get fixed. I think the time without my baby is going to hurt more than the ~$200 - $500 I'm bracing for a repair cost. (I looked in enough online forums -- to my relief my particular issue is common so i know it can be fixed.)

So I was originally planning to hit that huge 8 band bill at Zad's Roadhouse and catch (speaking of) the Aimless Blades and their CD release. The Blades are working the same turf as Longacre, but with Blaine Schultz and Paul Setser around, you can bet on a little more Neil to be involved as well as a touch (!) more psychedelia. And I really like the new release, Rara Avis. For the Aimless Blades, it's actually upbeat. But be sure and read that entire previous sentence, for the Aimless Blades. The whole band is going into the same territory that Frank Black and the Catholics were going in the "Dog in the Sand" years. Still, Blaine's voice, sounding like a cross between his obvious heroes Dylan and Young (but actually tuneful) tops a pile of songs that frankly, I didn't want to see packed into the short set the Blades would have been forced to have on an eight-band bill. But, without a working camera, I knew I'd be ticked off watching this show without documenting it. Plus, I'd spent most of the evening having dinner with my girlfriends, an activity I don't get to do all that often, and that took priority. So instead I gave one of them a lift home, and as she lives in Riverwest, I popped into the Art Bar to see the Blackkholes morph into the Velvet Underground project, and also to give myself one last look at my artwork on the walls there (yes, vanity check....) before the Cream City Photogs show comes down this Wednesday.

The 'holes were exhausted from a long show at UWM celebrating the life of Allen Ginsburg. You could tell -- even Mark Shurilla wasn't as animated as he usually is. Still, as ticked off about my camera as I was, it was good to sit and have a few with friends who i don't get to see as much as I'd like. Marlavous was being Nico (and she was saving the band) and Dan "Miles" Mullen had a few inspired moments (there was an almost surf version of Lou Reed happening at one point) but really, my own pissedoffedness was coloring the whole night and the Aimless Blades should be glad I didn't review them with this stick in my eye that I've got.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wintertime Ikettes, Close Calls, and Primal Scream Therapy

horizontal rim rocker shot
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Saturday night proved what we all pretty much knew about the Bucks this season: they're not a bad team, but something is missing, and I'll let professional sports pundits analyze it to death, but I'll chime in with a bit of the emotional side. Maybe it's a good thing the Bucks passed on trading anybody before the deadline. Maybe it was a message to the team, "Look, you're all still here, like it or not. You're all still on this team. Now play like it." And so they did Saturday night, a game that talk radio guys admitted "Look, you didn't expect them to win at all did you? So the fact that they only lost by 2 shouldn't really be that upsetting."

When you think of it that way, well, yeah, I guess not. But why didn't this go into overtime? Because Michael Redd missed not one, but both his free throw shots. Yeah, it shouldn't have come down to this, but Brian and I are a little down on Redd, and when it's the game tying throw and you're paying Redd as much as he gets, he needs to hit crucial free throws in the clutch. Oh well.

Still, it was a fairly electric night at the Bradley Center. Smelling a possible win against, the Rim Rockers come out and put on a spectacular show during one of the last timeouts -- better than I've seen them all season. Energee turned in one of their best routines yet: to the tune of a latter day Tina Turner live version of "Proud Mary", the girls come out in 60's shimmy-style dresses and heels that, while not in Tina's league, still forced the Energee girls to dance with that almost bowlegged style that Turner trademarked. It was like there was a whole army of Ikettes, all rollin' on the river and doo-DOO do-do-do DOO do-do-do -ing it up. Bravo, girls! Excellent referential treatment and routine -- let's see more of this and less of that nondescript pole dancing wanna be stuff you've been obviously pressured by the NBA to be doing.

I really don't want to discuss the anthem. It was by some fan who somehow managed to be allowed to do this. I get the impression that she's probably a darn good singer -- she had a good voice. But you could tell she hadn't done this sort of thing in front of this large an audience before because the poor woman's face said it all: She was excreting perfectly formed bricks. This resulted in an overall (as Simon would say) pitchy rendition, which was a shame, because I bet she normally can bring it at her church choir. I kind of wanted to sing along with her, hoping the rest of the crowd would too, and bail her out, but nobody else was singing along.

Therepy at Linneman's
Originally uploaded by V'ron.

While the anthem is not supposed to be sung flat, good ol barroom caberet almost doesn't sound right if it isn't flat, and Eat the Mystery got the job done at Linneman's after the game. They were part of an evening long benefit show, and they were theatrical and terrific as usual. Angie Livermore was especially melancholy and incredible, and I learned later that she'd had a particularly toughass week. But this speaks to the artist that she is: Lesser people would have let this destroy a show. Rather, Livermore took every ounce of bad juju she had to put up with this week, poured it into her art, and squeezed out a brutally brilliant performance. "How many people out there have ever been f*&(^ed over?" she bellowed, as the crowd hollered back in communal agreement. Three people were chosen to voice their renditions of just how bad they'd been screwed, with a winner chosen after Angie and her crew staggered across "Stagger Lee." The winner of course, was the woman whose primal scream was genuinely thereapeutic. It was just what the doctor ordered.