Thursday, August 30, 2007

Case in Point - FREE MUSIC!

Everyone likes to get (non-ticking) packages in the mail. Every so often I arrive home to find an unexpected tan package with my name on it and free music inside. It used to be that a lot of companies would send me their albums but these days that I'm not as aggressively reviewing music there are only a few who send me albums for review. One of these that still sends me music is Inside Out Music, a label that specializes in progressive rock music.

Such was the case yesterday.

Three albums forming a mixed bag. The most promising is The Hemulic Voluntary Band by Ritual, a Swedish group who really, really love the earth. But the delivery is coated in effusive melodies and organic instrumentation (in addition to the usual rock stuff there's piano and flutes and pan flutes and other pastoral flotsam) and dramatic Freddie Mercy-like vocals that make the icky medicine go down easier. And to be honest, by Al Gore/Unabomber standards they are barely environmentalists. I really enjoyed their first two albums and so hope to enjoy this one.

Also included was an album by Riverside whose first album sounded like modern radio gaga. It gets one listen and if it fails to grab me, it's gone.

Last is the newest by The Flower Kings. Lots of bands I like love this band but despite repeated listens to many of their albums over the years... nothing. I don't have high hopes for this one either but it will get one, maybe two listens before being stacked neatly away in storage with Riverside.

One out of three ain't bad!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Last Watermelon

My darling wife is sitting next to me eating a piece of what might possibly be the last watermelon of the season. Sure, we could take out a loan on the cat and buy a melon in December but they aren't as juicy or ice-cold-satisfying in the middle of a (Northern) Indiana winter.

It's not easy to write a blog post with my darling wife sitting next to me offering editorial comments on every sentence. That's why I'm glad her mouth is full of the delicious last watermelon of the season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


There are many perks to writing music reviews... you can often schmooze free CDs that you would have paid for anyway (and get them before the release date), you get paid cash dollars that come in handy in exchange for goods and services in the United States and abroad (especially good for bribing Mexican officials to turn their heads while you escort a pack of llamas over the border in the dead of night), and sometimes you get music for bands that you didn't know existed but eventually come to overhaul your entire musical world.

But this here entry isn't about the positive. Nope. It's time to be NEGATIVE! Because sometimes your editor gives you local albums to review. And sometimes these are decent, good for a few listens. Of the hundreds of local albums I've reviewed less than ten could compete with a national release. Sometimes it's the production that holds it back. Often it's the lackluster songwriting skills. And almost always it sounds like two or twelve bands currently being played to death on the radio. Knowing that these local bands and their fans comprise a good part of the advertising dollar for my unnamed print publication I do my best to find the good and write what is in essence a glowing press release that will be read almost exclusively by the band's parents and girlfriends. Everyone is happy and I get to pocket my payment and my pride.

Only once did I give my true feelings about a band in undisguised verbage... really, they deserved it and I found the experience quite cathartic... and the editor politely asked me to be more polite.

But today I am faced with another difficult task that has reared its head a few times in the past: reviewing an album by an artist who is extremely well known and loved in the area but whose music I find bland and without any uniquely defining characteristic. Somehow I will pound out four-to-five hundred words of tripe using my boilerplate and everyone will be happy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Music Stuff (snore)

I just listened to Ben Fold Five's Whatever and Ever, Amen for the first time in a long time. For some reason, the album just opened up for me. While it wasn't the first time I've enjoyed the album with headphones I'm sure this helped in making the bass sound leap out and meaning of the songs suddenly pop into focus. I mean, I subconsciously knew most of the lyrics and had a general awareness of what each song was about but this time everything clicked. And then there was hearing and appreciating all the nice touches like clarinets, cellos, brushed drums and upright bass. It's about as much fun as one is allowed to have at work.

While I'm not a rabid Ben Folds fan I sincerely believe that he is a master songcrafter. The man can write melodies and put a song together like few peers. Plus you add in his penchant for melancholy melodies and I'm there. Now that he had kids he's going the route of the family friendly soundtrack, which in most ways is good. I mean, his early habit of throwing superflous swear words into his songs did help in marketing him as "angsty" and "Not Your Fathers Piano Player" but in the long run they did little to service the song. And anyone who knows me knows that I'm all about servicing the song. I have no clue what that means.

Or possibly the illumination comes from me switching to WinAmp because Windows Media Player 11 doesn't work with Last.FM and WMP version 10 doesn't work my "operating system"... although they played well together last week before the latest Windows update.

Contest For Stuff

My dahlink wife would simply LOVE to win one of these purses... and you can to, or maybe you can buy a purse from her fledgling web business. Or maybe you can even read her blog.

Heartwarming Holidays

It's almost as if Santa whispered into her ear: "On Christmas Eve I'm going to come down your chimney AND EAT YOU! Kinda looks like he means it, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


If you have a memory longer than mine you'll remember the pictures of our garden and the amazingly massive tomato plants. Well, they've exploded in ripeness. I think in the last three or four days they've cranked out close to thirty ripe tomatoes. We ate quite a few, maliciously tossed a few at transients, and then decided to make spaghetti sauce. It isn't easy to find a recipe that calls for fresh tomatoes (and I'm sick of typing the word "tomato" so from here on out I'll refer to them as goats) as most call for canned goats or small rodents or tofu goats. But I found one in a slow cooker recipe book (that THAT internets) that did us quite nicely. So the other day I spent an hour skinning and seeding and slicing ten or twelve goats to make a double batch, letting it simmer all night and into the next day. Today we are on our second double batch of goat sauce. There are still about twenty more goats in the garden threatening to ripen but when they do, we'll be waiting but probably not for more sauce... most like we'll turn them into BLGs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Matthew received a volcano kit about, oh, eight months ago. On-the-ball parent that I am I figured it was about time to mold a volcano and set it off. Then we realized that this kit allows you to make UNLIMITED VOLCANOES (extra plaster of paris not included). The kids each made and painted their own volcanoes (see photos below).

Then it was time to add the secret ingredient... FUN! AND CHEESE!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Swirling Eddies

Possibly the most disturbing video ever from my pals, The Swirling Eddies.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fun In The Country (With Ticks)

Okay... here are the videos. I guess I should remember that even though I'm recording the video on a digital camera that turning it sideways (a common technique in photography) doesn't translate well to video. So while watching a couple of these feel free to turn your monitor on its side or lay down on your own side. DO NOT lay down on someone else's side without getting written permission.

This one also played "Mr. Tambo-Urine Man" and other great hits of the 60s. I almost begged the manager to let me tune it.

A pity more of the instruments weren't allowed to play.

Flea, Jaco Pastorius, Les Claypool ... eat your hearts out! Tim Chandler... yours is in the mail.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fun In The Country (Without Ticks)

My lovely wife and I recently enjoyed an evening at a Bed and Breakfast in Berne. Part of our trip, well, most of our trip involved visiting Bear Creek Farms where the buffet is reasonably priced and the clientelle use their AARP discount.

But there are other things. Wonderful things. Spoooooky things.

There are a few museums and stores on site as well. Our favorite was (drum roll please)...
Once inside visitors are treated to a wall of giant beer cans and a wall of giant pulleys, all behind giant protective glass.


You also get:

But best of all was this lonely box sitting upstairs. BEWARE! DON'T LOOSE THE BERTHA ACCORIDON!

There were also a number of clockwork musical instruments. Yes, video was taken and will be available soon. I know all three of my readers are itching with anticipation and should probably go purchase the appropriate ointment or check for ticks.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Meant To Be

My wife is a notorious blogger and often gets tagged to take quizzes from other bloggers. One recent quiz was to find out what Jane Austin female character she is most like. She scored Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility:

As Marianne's older sister, Elinor lives at the other end of the emotional spectrum. She rarely reveals her intense feelings and is more concerned with being honest and loyal than having what she deserves. Even though her intentions are pure, she sets herself up for loss by constantly placing other people before her own needs. Overall, Elinor is gentle and rational but is just as capable of radical emotions (despite her withholding them) as her sister.

She's just taking their word for it because, try as she might, my lovely wife is not able to choke down more than a few pages of Jane Austin before erupting with "WHY DON'T THESE CRYBABY NINNIES STOP STABBING EACH OTHER IN THE BACK?!?!?!" and putting the book back on the shelf.

I then took a quiz to find out what Jane Austin male character I am most like and scored Edward Ferrars:

Edward Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility is one of the most awkward characters you'll come across, but it's endearing once his better qualities come out. He's devoted, extremely true to his word, and gentle.

I'm taking their word for it because, try as I might I could not choke down more than a few pages of Jane Austin during high school before erupting with "NOTHING IS HAPPENING!!!! WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS JUST TALKING?!?!?" and turning to the Cliff Notes.

As it turns out, our characters fall in love and get married to each other in Sense And Sensibility. *sniff* True love...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

Tomorrow I'm going to be doing a bit of work at my church, framing a small wall and installing a twelve-foot high barbed wire electric fence to keep the commies out. Most likely I'll be there for a number of hours and most likely I'll have the entire building to myself. Which means I'll bring along my trusty BOOMBOX to provide distraction and time expedition. The question remains as to what albums to bring. I'm pretty sure that if they heard Sleepytime Gorilla Museum I'd have quite a bit of 'splainin' to do even after the got the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It doesn't help that my church is the headquarters for the local Bach appreciation society so I'd probably have the same amount of 'splainin' if I brought in Ives or Prokofiev. This pretty much leaves Burl Ives Sings The Hits Of Godsmack and Wing.