Monday, August 29, 2011

Look, I have a new look

I suppose I needed to GWTFP and redesign my page to be compliant with the latest version of HTML, so I just capitulated and used the Blogger designer and, well, here I am. Have to do the same with my homepage and weightloss blog... but for now, this is what I've got. Hope you enjoy the change.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Everybody I Know Has a Big But....


Herr Seagull
Originally uploaded by V'ron
So, the end of summer is really creeping up on me. Just last night I went to a Girl Scout organizer kick-off meeting which means, well, we must be kicking off to something, which means, school is coming. Here in Wisconsin, we generally wait until after Labor Day, just like the old days.

The weather got to me this week, meaning I missed the fabulous Robyn Pluer at Chill on the Hill the other night, but I did catch the week before, a three-punch of lush rock. The headliners were the Championship, a band i've been meaning to see for some time, and Chill on the Hill was the right place to see them, because they are not exactly what I could call a street fest party band. They are lush Americana-- a little too hard to be called folk, but not quite rock and roll. They, along with openers Testa Rosa, are what I would call housecleaning music. It's lush, it's bright enough to keep you moving, but it's the kind of thing you want on the speakers to keep you on track to get all those PITA chores you have to do. I've cleaned the house to Testa Rosa before, and like their music, it sparkles from Betty Blexrud-Strigens clear, crisp vocals. The night started with some psychedelic gypsy folk from Luvahl, which happens to be Jason Loveall's new outfit. I talked to him afterwards and he explained that he just wants to go straight gypsy. We'll see about that.

A few days later, Humboldt Park played host to their first movie night, and the offering was perfect for Bay View: Pee Wee's Big Adventure. it brought in the Bay View hipsters who used to get up on Saturday mornings for wake and bakes to watch Pee Wee's Playhouse, and little kids and medium-sized kids love it too. I'm glad they've brought this tradition to the neighborhood-- I used to love the movies at River Rhythms and was sad to hear they're not doing this anymore in Pere Marquette Park. It's just as well -- it's easier to park in the Humboldt Park 'hood and the Bay View Neighborhood Association knew to bring in more vendors for snacks. It threatened to rain -- right during the scene where Pee Wee is in the giant dinosaur with Simone, who wants to explore Paris, "... but...." and Pee Wee cuts her off and says, resignedly, "Everybody I know has a big 'but' ". It's so true. I would have gone out to see Robyn Pluer a few days later, but.... I would really have loved to catch the Eels when they were in town, but.... And I definitely would be writing in the blog more often, like I used to, but.....

It's like this wonderful art installation from Herr Seagull at the Grand Avenue Mall that I missed last weekend. Thanks to Tom Strini at Third Coast Digest, who pointed me to an explanation for this odd, slapped up poster I saw early Monday morning as I made my way to the YMCA, and thought to myself, "WTF is this." It's the sort of thing that a few years ago, I would would have already known about it, and had dragged the kids to it. But.... it was very brief, and now it's gone.

I did manage to drag the kids out to a few cool things. We spent the night the other weekend at Snooze at the Zoo, an annual overnight camping trip on the Zoo grounds, so that you can hear the sea lions snorting at 3 am, and wake up to a peacock strolling by your tent. This was our second year, and we were assigned a lovely spot right near Lake Evinrude, so it really felt like we were on safari. But.... this year none of the buildings were open at night and that's a big but. Last year we got to catch mama kangaroos with their adorable little joeys in their pockets, nursing them and hopping around... and we caught lots of other twilight cuteness too. The official word is that the buildings are never open for Snooze, which I know is false. I ran into a friend who works part time at the zoo and he explained that everybody there basically has their butt cheeks clenched over the lion cubs that were born just this month, so I'll let 'em slide on this.

We also hit a church festival, this time at Our Lady of Lourdes, mostly to catch the surreal concept of seeing the Five Card Studs deliver their seventies' sexy to a bunch of middle aged Catholics, and Lourdes did not disappoint. It was a great church festival: reasonably priced (and long!) rides, real cotton candy that was made right there, bingo, piles of italians and polish festering in giant nescos (um, that's sausages, not people, hence the lower case), throw up on the Tilt-A-Whirl (which Stella discovered AFTER we took our seat on that carnival ride that forces you to work for your fun). And it was a breezy but hot summer night, watching the Studs take on the Doors "Touch Me" and subversivly sequing into "The End" while none of the faithful blinked an eye. We'd have stayed longer .... but....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Random ramblins after a weekend at State Fair

Random ramblings over the past few weeks:

  • Through all the stormy weather, I didn't see much music. I was looking forward to seeing the Aquanots, a trio of adolescent boys playing the blues at Chill on the Hill last week, but by the time I found out that the storm had moved them into the safety of the Bay View Brew Haus, I arrived in time for 1 song and an encore. They were good. I'm always reluctant to even report on kids age because it's always tinged with the "you play pretty good... for kids" and I always have to ask myself, "Was I blown away because they were really that good or was it because they were kids?" Ion the case of the Aquanauts, it's both. Close your eyes, and they sound like a seasoned blues guitar trio, in the vein of Hound Dog Taylor or George Thorogood or that ilk. Open them, and you see an understatedly cocky adolescent boy on top of the tables, showing off stage antics while riffing on standard blues. As kids, they're terrific. As bluesmen, well, from two songs I can say that I hope they broaden out their repertoire as they gain more experience. I mean, what the heck is the blues to a 13 year old? (Then again, adolescence kind of sucks. I can totally understand why a kid need to wail on a I-IV-V now and again.)
  • I don't get out all that often to see this band my DH plays in, Dr Chow's Love Medicine, but the ripped it up on Brady Street for the festival. They have a slightly new lineup: Ron Turner has moved to lead guitar, Fly is slowly bowing out to attend to other pursuits. Frank, the lead singer, is still the centerpiece and draw for this band and as usual, he did not disappoint. Highlight this evening was a gut-wrenching "I Put A Spell On You" as well as a new one, for the #wiunion movement, called "I Shall Walk."
  • Down the block there were bands and DJs paying tribute to Cosmo Cruz, who would succumb to cancer two days later. I didn't know ol Pat Cummings personally, and enough deservedly wonderful words have been written about him in the past week. I just know that I loved his voice on the radio-- both soothing and knowledgable -- and listening to him on WMSE was like listening to a cool big brother who would constantly be turning you on to great music. A lot of Milwaukee music greats have been leaving us lately: and all i can do is realize I and my peers are getting to the age where this is going to be more and more common.
  • Hit the Wisconsin State Fair this past Sunday. Don't worry kiddos, it was peacefully packed with people who want to eat bacon, and that was about it. One thing I noticed though, was the amount of young (and, yeah, older) girls who thought it would be a good idea to wear flip-flops or flip-floppy type sandals. Um, there's horse manure and cow chips and sheep dip and whatever all about, and I saw at least two piles of throw up in the midway (witnessed one being made) from people who didn't wait long enough after eating before going on a ride that was going to twist their stomachs. I can't tell you how many times I told the kids to "More than ever, watch where you're going!" Really, teenagers-- at what point did you think those flip flops were a good idea? Can you tell that while I waited for my kids to be done with a ride, I counted at least seven clueless chicks walk straight into the regurge, and then get grossed out? Even after I tried to warn people?
  • We sat in front of the WORST family at the movies the other night. This wasn't your average crunching-popcorn-loudly crew. No, they were fidgety kids who liked to kick the seat in front of them (where Stella was stuck), a dad who never shushed the kids even though they had a conversation-level comment to make about Every.Single.Scene. The dad really lost me when his cell phone went off in the middle of a quiet scene. I have to get less passive-aggressive about these things,because just giving them the stink-eye didn't seem to do the trick.
  • Chill on the Hill continues to be hit-or-miss musically, but always wonderful in terms of a great community gathering. Just this week we had Reilly, an Irish band that chalks up some nice Irish-flavored covers as well. They succeed because they can actually play in time signatures other than 6/8 and they don't affect a faux celtic accent. They do, however, maintain that intimate storytelling feel that makes Irish/Celtic music fun, and turned Chill on the Hill into some neighborhood pub in County Clare or wherever. The Red Hot Chili Pipers are at Pere Marquette next week and I'll want to check that out for sure.
  • Speaking of Pere Marquette park, they're not doing River Flicks this year and I was quite disappointed about that because it was a wonderful night out with movies, but Veterans Park is, and so is Humboldt Park. The Humboldt Park offering next Saturday night is Pee Wee's Big Adventure and that's perfect for Bay View combination of hipsters, kids, and regular folk. (PeeWee's line in the biker bar, "I'm TRY-ing to use the PHONE" is my cell phone ringtone, BTW.)