March 27, 2012

What the heck is this?

A friend of mine linked to her blog on Facebook and I read it (and dug it, since I hadn’t seen her or talked to her in a long time) and I realized, oh yeah I got one of those things too. I spend too much time on FB and playing Angry Birds. But I also play the piano a lot and, as of late, recording (finally) and trying to put out the 10+ years of music I’ve sworn I will finish.

Progress is slow. Time takes way to much time. And there isn’t enough of it on any given day to just get a decent take. And I’ve forced myself to get a take of something done every time I set the mics up and tune the guitar and let it rip. And the rule is that if I get the take done, I can’t listen to it until at least 24 hours later. My sense of objectivity will have some recovery time and then I can decide that, yeah it’s a keeper or nope, that’s going to need to be replaced.

Is anyone out there reading? Drop me a line, I’ll probably link to the FB once I have something interesting to say.

November 19, 2009

Back to the blog

We finally got the blog moved to a new server and got a new design on the site. In the meantime I started writing for and joined twitter to further my exploration into cyberspace. The examiner pieces are specifically about the local music scene and I’m trying to cover a nice mix of bands, venues and general observations about what’s happening musically in Madison.

I know there are many places to check listings and get information about bands and venues but I often feel like there’s no sense of history for our scene. I wrote a bit about O’Cayz and went to do something about Club Du Wash and found very little information anywhere about the place. So I’m hoping to pick some local brains about venues and history and publish more stuff that documents what happened and how we got to where we are now. And now that the blog is back (and Word Pressy) I’ll be tugging on the collective ear as much as I can.

February 5, 2009

I'll Be Seeing Ya

I’ve been very busy doing all sorts of things recently, so not much blogging happening here! One of the reasons for this is that I managed to blow up both of our home computers. Deanna and Soren flew down to AZ a few weeks back and while they were gone I got the recording bug. I mostly do this in the basement but winter makes it impossible to hang out down there, so I decided to move my computer up to the living room. I got a table set up and hauled the gear (mixing board, microphones, pre amps, stands, guitars, effects boxes, computer monitor) and tried to get down to work. Then I turned on the computer and got nothing. Well, almost nothing: It powered up but did not boot and no amount of restarting (or unpluggint) did anything. So I chalked it up to it being an old machine (6 years old in the new year) and realized that I could probably harvest the hard drives and find a new more modern home for my music.

On Sunday night I decided I would try to move our main computer out of the office in to the living room to try recording on that machine. Once again I plugged in the computer and it did exactly the same thing: power sans boot or any action. I was crushed and now felt like I was in real peril, as every bit of writing and music (as well as pictures and financial info) was now unavailable and might not ever return. Deanna came home on Monday and we brought the computers to a friend, who managed to revive mine (the BIOS needed a reset) but not our main computer. We did harvest the hard drives but now need to find a new home for our data.

We only went a day or so without an internet connection (we got a laptop loaner) but it was plenty long for me. I am hooked on Facebook and enjoy the networking and nostalgia and pictures, but I mostly use the internet for research. If I want to know something I sit down here and let my fingers do the walking. The withdrawl from being able to do this whenever I wanted was painful. And we never did figure out why our computers blew up, though we did note that none of our first floor outlets are grounded (Our house is 99 years old). So last weekend we installed a GFC outlet in the office. We took out the old outlet and threaded the cable through and across the basement and hooked it up to the breaker box. We were very surprised at how easy it was and how good we felt doing something so important ourselves. We hope this new outlet, along with a strong surge protector, will keep us safely online for many years.

February 1, 2009

Love Czars at Mickeys

The Love Czars perform their annual Valentine’s show at Mickey’s.

December 21, 2008

Pomp or Circumstance?

I’ve almost entirely stopped looking at my favorite local page The Daily Page Forum over the last few months. Activity has gone down in general, especially in the wake of Obama winning the presidency. I still check in a couple of times a week, mostly to hear local folks weigh in on events in Madison. But I feel like the people who posted intelligent things are not doing it as often and much of what gets discussed does not interest me.

Plus I’ve been sucked into Facebook. And the connections keep on coming, from former workmates to old friends and exes. I’ve even had a couple of chats with some folks I used to spend a lot of time talking to face to face. I joined a group for the bar that I used to hang out at in Ames where I met many of the musicians I still play with. I joined a freakin’ group for the dorm floor I lived on as a Freshman and Sophomore. These are strange digital times indeed.

The oddest part so far is the joining up with a page for my high school graduating class. My 20th is coming up in 2009 and I’m mulling over the idea of attending. I missed the 10th since I was quite poor and didn’t have a car and wasn’t sure I wanted to face all of those people quite yet. But this time around my life is a bit more together and I’m a bit more piqued. A few of my classmate have friended me on Facebook. While I don’t have any problem being their virtual friend, the people who picked me out were not really people I knew all that well in high school. At least one is someone I did not recognize, even after getting the yearbook out. I did not friend anyone out of the 100 or so folks who have acknowledged the page. I haven’t talked to or seen at least 75% of them since the last day/week/month of school. Maybe another 10% I saw since they went the same college as I did. I think the last person I graduated with that I actually talked to face to face was Rob Harkin, who I saw the last week I lived in Ames. That was 12 years ago.

Deanna wants to go to my reunion–we’re the same age so hers will be in ’09 as well, though her class was 40 some people and mine was over 300. I’m worried about not remembering who anyone is, especially people who I didn’t know in the first place. My brother went to his back in ’07 and had a blast. Part of me is really looking forward to seeing old acquaintances but part of me would also like to remember everyone as they once were. Though if I don’t show up, I suppose folks will always think of me as that intensely shy skinny kid with braces who used to burst into tears at least once a week.

November 6, 2008


As with any given Tuesday, I was driving my cab on Election Night. Four years ago, as I ferried folks around the city, many of them ranted about how they couldn’t believe things were turning out so poorly. I picked up a lesbian couple from Club 5 and took them to their house on the southwest side. They were both pretty drunk and downbeat, claiming that if Bush wound up winning again they were definitely leaving the country. Their conversation was spiked with heavy sarcasm, so I couldn’t tell if they were kidding or not.

This year I started at 8pm just as the polls closed and I decided to leave my radio silent for the evening. Politics and religion are subject areas best left out of the small talk in a cab. If someone wanted to chat with me about what was going on I was game, but I wanted to make everyone who got in feel like they were entering a neutral space. I also kept the radio off because this political campaign could not be over soon enough. The negative ads and the exaggeration and the dumbing down of everything made my stomach turn over and over. My parents were (and probably still are) involved in political campaigning and I admire that anyone could be older than me and still have faith in the system. We look to our leaders to guide us but I know the only way things will ever get better is if the people in the United States take a long look at themselves and the way they lead their lives. We need to discard the laziness and wastefulness and entitlement that colors most of our society and streamline things so that the next generation of Americans can enjoy what we all take for granted. But I doubt many people would be willing to make such sacrifices.

The other reason I did not turn on my radio was because I wanted to see if I could tell when Barack Obama was declared as POTUS. I was driving up First Street towards the Fiore Shopping Center around 10 pm when I saw fireworks go off somewhere east of me. I turned on the radio and indeed they were touting Obama as the winner. I went on break and headed up to a bar that my friend Bob’s band was playing at and watched Obama give a very nice acceptance speech. While I sipped my soda, many of my friends were celebrating like it was a holiday. I’m glad Obama won and I’m happy that the last 8 years will finally end but I’m also wary that things could get a lot worse before they get better, if they ever truly do get better.

October 11, 2008

Have we got contact, you and me?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard from or contacted several old friends. These are all folks I’ve not seen in the flesh in a long time. In one case, an ex, who I am in myspace contact with, emailed me to ask how I was doing. It looked from her pictures that she had visited the humble city of Ames, Ia where we both used to live and was feeling nostalgic. Another friend found me through the fake band page (also on myspace) for my former band The Ultramaroons. He also wanted to know how I was and how our mutual friends were as well. I tried to reply with tempered enthusiasm as I think I scare folks away by being too excited to hear from them. Or maybe some folks are just lazy and don’t feel like sharing their life story with me.

The best contact came from someone I had not seen or heard from in 15 years. Dan and I met back when we were both crazy Unitarian Youth. Unitarians are really into getting together and talking about just about anything, so every few months they hold conferences to discuss church policies and to get to know the folks in the neighboring states (in our case we Iowans mingled with Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska) and the kids would come along and hang out. Often there were organized activities but mostly it was a chance to get together with other similarly freaky teenagers. These conferences were lifelines for me as I’d been stereotyped into a persona that I could not shake at school. The kids at the conferences were often in the same boat and were often more interested in politics and counterculture than any of my friends. Dan and I bonded over the band XTC as they were my musical obsession back in 1988. He was able to play some of their songs which blew my mind at the time (and still sort of does, me being 17 and him 15) and kicked off a great friendship. Dan is one of the siliest people I’ve ever met and never seems to be tired of talking about any subject. At least, thats how it was when we last saw each other in 1992. Since then we lost track and moved around the country doing our own things. I found him on facebook and we’ve had a really happy and satisfying exchange and catch up. I’ve been thinking of a Kurt Vonnegut quote while I’ve been corresponding this week:

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

I’m not really old and I do keep my good friends but I also know that along the way there were many that I would like to revisit, even if it’s just a single exchange to remind us of what once was going on.

September 22, 2008

Duit on Monday

I’m playing another show, this one totally solo, on Monday September 22. Along for the ride is Kyle Motor of The Motorz and Wendy Schneider who was the force behind Bugatti Type 35 and is now using the moniker Shooter Jane.

The real reason for the show is the last harrah for Nate “Waylan” Palan who is/has left Madison with his girl for the richer musical pastures of Brooklyn, NY. Nate has a mountain of shows this week, including a Tuesday at The Crystal Corner with the Hometown Sweethearts and a double bill on Thursday with his old band Electric Automatic and a cd release for his other band The God Damns. WHEW! Those other shows will be good but are starting late at night. If you gotta get up in the morning and work, our show at the High Noon starts at 8pm. Better get there early as you know how those singer/songwriter shows are mob scenes. It’s often hard to hear myself over the screaming crowd, dontcha know…

August 30, 2008

Mighty Mighty Fuh King

Thanks to everyone who listened to or downloaded the Beatles Universe show. I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback and we had a good time. For those of you who missed out: Dave 3000, Pete Selbo and I played some wacky records but also played some live Beatles songs on Dave’s Kosmik Radiation show. Everything went well until late in our second set when my amp decided to wig out and we couldn’t finish our last two songs. Perhaps the ghosts of long dead Beatles songs were weighing in on our renditions…

If you’d like to know what we played here’s a link to the set list and if you’re really nice I’ll send you or burn you a copy of the show. I think we gathered an appropriately insane list of songs, each with its own connection to the Beatle Universe. I was especially proud to track down the single by Freddy Lennon (John’s father, who sounds a bit like his son. Or is it the other way around?) as well as featuring a song by Paul’s brother Mike McGear. Our best pick of the show was the “The King of Fuh” by the mysterious weirdo known as Brute Force whose connection to the Beatles is scarce but real. And the song is very catchy and hilarious. We looked high and low for this song as the single is rare and oddly enough I found it on itunes for 99 cents

August 1, 2008

Now She's Hit the Big Time

I’m going to be on WORT next week. The show is Kosmik Radiation which is run by my friend Dave 3000. Long ago I hyped his program as it keeps me company on my Tuesday overnight cab shift. Over the past couple of years we’ve discussed show topics as Dave does a themed show of some sort on his first broadcast of every month. Being a Beatlemaniac (and knowing Dave’s affinity for them) I suggested a Beatles Orbit show and so that’s what we’re doing.

So, if you are up at 2 am on Wednesday morning August 6, tune in and hear us play all sorts of songs that have a Beatle connection. Some are obvious–the many many covers out there–and some are not so obvious–like the one where Paul is crunching carrots. Yep, we’re gonna play that one.

Of course, 99.9% of you will not be up at those hours to hear what we are up to. Fortunately, WORT is now totally digital and archives each show for at least 2 weeks on their site. Click through and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Dave also posts a copy of each show on his site that you can download and put on your mp3 player or computer. We have some fun surprises in store for you vigilant listeners. The hardest thing was to narrow down the hours and hours of stuff we have to a 3 hour slot. Who knows, if this one goes well perhaps there will be more Beatle madness down the road.