6.30.2008

BAMBO SYNDICATE NEWSLETTER 6.30.08

Hey, fans, jackory here...Harley and Manchu have been busy working on a couple of new tracks. I'm not sure when they'll see the light of day, but Riggs assures me that they have remained clean and sober during the entire recording process. Manchu says he's not sure if this "no drugs" approach will be beneficial to the sound of the new album, but he's willing to take a chance.

I spoke with Harley yesterday about one of the new songs:

"This one's gonna blow your mind! Somebody made a huge donation to Benny Hinn's ministry and the check was accidently re-directed to our management, who gave us a good chunk of it, and so we were able to afford the studio time to make this record. Manchu insisted that we make the songs slightly religious, seeing as how it was funded by some poor, helpless old lady in a wheelchair who was told that her broken body would be miraculously healed if she sent a big wad of cash to Hinn.

I said, Manchu, you're an idiot.

So we came to a compromise. There is some religion in the album, but there's also a lot of backward masked messages from Lucifer.

It's gonna be a hit."

Stay tuned for more news from the BS corner.

jac

6.29.2008

I'm still reviewing songs at Garageband. 15 reviews down and now one of my songs is in the contest, ie. eligible for reviewing. I chose "Take You to Hell" because I think it is the most original of the lot. Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think.

Of all the reviews I've done, only one song has really and truly impressed me. "A Girl Should..." by Chief Thundercloud has a style and sound that are unique and original. The closest I can come by way of comparison is Sparklehorse...maybe Syd Barrett.

So now I'm off to review some more songs. I'm not sure which of mine I will enter next, but it's not about that. At this point I am simply enjoying the arm-chair critic thing.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?



I know, I know...it's sick. But funny, in it's own twisted way.


6.27.2008

garageband review exchange: the Butt Plugz

I've taken to reviewing songs at Garageband.com. 15 song pair reviews and I can enter one of mine into the contest. Don't have any ridiculous hopes of winning any contest, but by entering your songs get reviewed, and I'm curious to know what other folks think. From what I've seen there appears to be a lot of ass kissing going on with the reviewers, but I confess I haven't looked deep enough to definitely say that such is the case with all of them.

But it's turned out to be quite fun. I'll probably keep reviewing long after all my songs are eligible for being reviewed themselves.

I received a little feedback this morning and I thought I would share it with you. The "song" I reviewed was an infantile offering from the Butt Plugz with the charming name of "Muffin Top".

My initial review:

I feel as if I'm unqualified to review this song. First of all, I am over the age of 13. That should be enough. Maybe, just maybe, if the production was better, it might fly on Howard Stern's program. That alone should tell you what I thought of this track. I'm sorry I could not come up with anything constructive to say here, but surely no feelings will get hurt when I say this is just plain stupid. Perhaps the people responsible for it will take that as a compliment, and that's fine by me.

Response from the Butt Plugz:

Like I'm supposed to give a f**k about somebody's opinion who's in a band called Bambo, and from Oklahoma to boot. Thanks for the review ya hick.

My reply:

You're more than welcome. I'm sorry I couldn't offer a more encouraging review of your insightful song, "Muffin Top", at least I hope you will appreciate the sincerity with which I judged it. Moreover, having read your profile, I would only add that if you hate your lives so much then why do you give a shit if anyone likes your music?

But I can see, as an ex-pot smoker myself, how it could be a lot of fun to get nice and twisted, break out the guitars and regress to puberty for the evening, recording the experience for posterity. It really does sound like fun...hell, I've done it before. More power to ya.

Nevertheless, I only offered an honest opinion. I said the song was stupid and juvenile. You really think it's not? Was it really meant to be anything more lofty than that? Come on now.

j

If I there are more entertaining exchanges in the future I will bring share them with you.

6.26.2008


Bobby Neese 1953-2008


A friend called me yesterday with the news: Bobby Neese had died. It came as a shock, as he was only 54.

I didn't know Bobby as well as I would have liked. I played in a couple of bands with him in the early 80's. He was an excellent guitarist. He had a good singing voice that sounded a lot like Roy Orbison. His rendition of "Crying" was powerful and moving. I have a tape recording of him singing "An American Trilogy" and it just gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. He never tried to impersonate Elvis on that song. Instead, he infused it with his own unique style that could make you forget who Elvis even was.

Bobby had a great sense of humor. One time, during a rehearsal, our drummer, Kenny, was getting on his nerves. Bobby said, "You know the bumper sticker you see that says 'I rode the bull at Gilley's'? Kenny's got one that says 'I bred the bull at Gilley's'." I'm laughing even now as I type this.

Then there was the time when I told Bobby I was going to buy a rhythm machine with 15 programmable rhythms, "seven more than Kenny's got!" Bobby didn't miss a beat: "That's 14 more than Kenny's got."

He played music all of his life and travelled all over the country in different bands. If memory serves, I think he was the bass player in Stonewall Jackson's band for awhile, but I may have that mixed up with how he opened for Stoney Edwards. He put out a record and tried hard to gain success in the Nashville circuit, but it eluded him. One night he was telling us about experiences he'd had on the road. He said there was a rowdy bar he played at where someone threw a pool ball at him and beaned him on the forehead. Ouch! That had to hurt! For a long time I was afraid to play in bars, frightened of flying pool balls.

He had his faults, and it wasn't hard to tell that he was fighting off some personal demons. But practically all the memories I have of him are good ones. He encouraged me greatly. He gave me opportunities to hone my musical skills with him in the bands he invited me to join. I daresay I am a better musician as a result of his friendship.

He will be missed.

Here is his opfficial obituary:

Robert Neese, 54
September 19, 1953 - June 22, 2008

Longtime Seminole resident Robert “Bobby” Neese passed away on Sunday, June 22, 2008 in Shawnee, Oklahoma at the age of 54.

He was born in Perry, Oklahoma on September 19, 1953 to Robert Fulton and Johnny Lenora (Lewis) Neese.

He was a musician and opened for many bands such as, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, Gene Watson and Stoney Edwards. He was a member of the Tri-City Christian Church in Seminole.

He is preceded in death by his parents, brother, Robert Fulton Neese, Jr., sister, Susan Ann Neese and uncle J.D. Neese.

He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law: Ashley Neese currently serving in the military in Iraq and wife Karri Neese of Shawnee, Oklahoma, daughter, Krystal Neese of Wewoka, Oklahoma, brother and sister-in-law: Scott and Paula Neese of Seminole, two sisters and a brother-in-law: Linda and Lonnie Knight of Seminole and Judy Robbins of Seminole, Oklahoma, several nieces and nephews; Terry Carter, Angie Adams, Londa Robertson, Melanie Yerby, Scott Fulton and Brendan Neese. He is also survived by two grandsons: Rhett and Hunter of Shawnee, Oklahoma.

Here's another fun site I found "stumbling". A game where you have 30 seconds to match 9 album names with their covers. I'm sure I will waste a lot of time doing this. Come, waste it with me.


Maarts on the new Sigur Ros

Here is a "first impressions" review of the new Sigur Ros album, written by a man whose taste in music I highly respect.

I have caved in, ordered the special edition and got the download...this is my report as I listen to this right now.

Gobbledigook: I still cannot make out why I don't quite like this track. It's clever with its counter-rhythms and neat little yelp in the chorus and the layers of la-la-la-vocals in the background...perhaps not enough of a hook to grab me.

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur For one second it sounds like the band strikes up Go Now...standard bits of SR-ingedients (glockenspiel, a mournful string and brass arrangement underneath, the bum bum-drumsound filling every nook and cranny up in this track...it's bloody effective. Jonsi's vocals seem not so dominantly eerie as on previous albums...perhaps he is singing true lyrics rather than vocalise? It's stuffed to the happy climax all the way through. A happy album, is it possible?

Góðan daginn ...and this is where the melancholy kicks in and I'm a sucker for these things. That stringed bow-guitarsound wafts eeriliy through this acoustic track and a dreamy vocal compliments this lullaby of a song...like Eno or Zazou at their most ambient. And again, like on previous albums there's an undercutrrent of sounds working here...a stream of bright electronics, glockenspiel and bass tugging you under. Magnificent.

Við spilum endalaust As close to a hitsingle they'll ever get. Nice-landic stomp built around crescending brass and strings towards the end.

Festival. The elegaic organ-like intro tells me enough. This is starting as Sigur Ros's version of Ave Maria before the band kicks in and stretches it heavenward with pounding bass as the vine into the clouds creating a passage for so many different strands of instruments and vocals to climb up there....this is why I love this band so much. It reaches for those highpoints with overwrought bombastic tendencies but the melodies are so heartbreakingly gorgeous you cannot help but to be immersed in them. A soulcleanser of a track. And they have written many like those.

Suð í eyrum Built around simple piano motifs this song is a fairly standard Ros-track with rolling percussion and layer upon layer of electronic strings...and again I'm wrapped in its cocoon of warm fuzzy harmonics. Jonsi's voice never overstates his welcome anywhere on the album- the parallells with whalesong are definitely out of the window. Again, beautiful.

ára bátur As far as melodies go, this one is the purest. Simple piano chords, gorgeous vocal line and very gentle strings and the voices of a boys' choir drifting underneath...it dares not to trespass the fragile mood created here. It's like a farewell scene out of a movie graced with a elegant and sublime soundtrack. Words fail me, I'm sitting with goosebumps listening to this and when this song lead up to the inevitable crescendo in sound I actually think that this song would have been better if it had stayed low-key to the end...so 7 minutes of phenomenal music.

Illgresi There's a variety of ballads on this album to counter-act the massive songs filling the grooves here. This is almost so light it floats away on its acoustic guitar-strumming and towards the end I'm humminh the tune to Bryan Adams' Heaven...no, not my favourite.

Fljótavík The idea of a happy album by now has been shelved- this is definitely like the culmination of the Sigur Ros-sound in symphonic ballads. The band generate enough layers to put the London Symphonic Orchestra to shame in overall sound- this ballad another clear example of this. It feels though a slight bit like I'm eating a very richly decorated sweet cake...the sugar is overabundant in this track too.

Straumnes A slow instrumental out of the Sylvian/Eno/name here your favourite ambient artist-handbook. An Ending?

All Alright...and when the water cascades around me at the start of this track I feel like a bit of an upbeat ending...the band don't let me down, they screw the tempo even further back with a barrage of brass piled on top of a piano-riff, finalising this album almost in the same vein they ended Takk...this one is reminiscent of David Sylvian's Let the Happiness In with dense trumpets pushing the vocal higher...top class melancholia.


This album belies the happy, free nature of the single Gobbledigook and perhaps doesn't do the pre-press justice in regards to the sound- more earthy, less constraint. I fact, Sigur Ros continues from Takk in the same vein but compresses their dense sound even further to a point where it almost becomes too much- invariably, it's when the band takes the sound back they are the most impressive (Festival, the opening of ára bátur, Góðan daginn...). Perhaps they needed to break the mould of the second part of the album more open with a few uptempo-tracks...as it is it is a beautiful album but too rich sometimes for its own good.


Review by MAARTS, 6.21.08 Reprinted by permission
It's a phenomenon unlike anything we've ever encountered on the planet. If something is not done about it our dairy and beef supplies will dwindle down to nothing. I am, of course, speaking of
COW ABDUCTIONS

6.25.2008

New from the Bambo Syndicate


New stuff from the Bambo Syndicate (in case you haven't figured it out yet, the Bambo Syndicate is ME)...

Music Video of the Week: Diamanda Galas

Pause the Sigur Ros Jukebox at the top of the page before playing video.

"Double Barrel Prayer"
Diamanda Galas

6.24.2008

Such a lack of activity going on with the message board community I've been a part of for several years, I decided to jump into the waters of the Sigur Ros message boards at Eighteen Seconds To Sunrise (an officially sanctioned fan site). It's not easy being a newbie there, but I am persistent and I'm sure it won't be too long before my post count goes into the triple digits.

6.23.2008

"Cloverfield"

I basically knew what I was getting into when I watched this movie. Hand held camera, home video and all. The woman who works at the video store wouldn't recommend it, saying that all the herky-jerky movements made her nauseous. I guess that's a valid reason to dislike it. But there are many others to choose from.

First off, the premise is that everyone in the movie is simply a person who happens to be there when the camera just happens to be rolling. Which would be all fine and good if it wasn't so obvious that these were actors ACTING, which is to say that they aren't believable in the situation the characters would find themselves in...not that there any real characters. The writer obviously tries to single out a couple of the hapless folks, but you're doing a lot better than me if you cared at all for any of them. There's a good chance that the home video concept is at blame here, with it's inherent limitations. No matter. It'a all the same in the end.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I thought the visual imagery invoking 9/11 in this film was in very poor taste. You will not convince me that the producer/writer/director didn't know exactly what they were doing when they shot those scenes. They seemed to be a cheap attempt to conjure up some bad memories of horror to supplement the lack of horrific images they could come up with themselves.

The video store lady was justified, as well, in her dislike of the "cinematography". Not so much that you need motion sickness pills to see it through to the end...but it is EXTREMELY gimmicky. It gets tiresome very quickly and the producer does nothing interesting with the concept like, say, Mike Figgis could have done. Though I doubt Figgis would want anything to do with this movie that has no real plot to think of and goes absolutely nowhere.

Finally, I want to re-iterate my disgust at the 9/11 connections these bozos try to make...I would say "apparently try to make", but it should be obvious to anyone...take a look at the DVD cover art and tell me how you think that would have gone over in the later months of 2001.

...or maybe I'm just angry because even though sat through the whole mess and paid what I thought was very close attention, I still don't have a clue what the word "Cloverfield" means...

Naw...the movie sucked. That's all it is.

1 out of 4 Stars

6.22.2008


Actually, it sounds like a good idea. When do we start?
MUSIC-MAP

This is cool!

Yesterday, when I went to the convenience store to get gas for the lawn mower, there was this woman standing outside, near the door, smoking. I pumped almost 4 dollars to fill up a one gallon gas can. For whatever reason, she watched me the whole time. I had to avoid her stare as I put the gas can in the back seat of the car.

I went in and paid for the gas, and as I walked back out to my car she said, "It looks like you're going to do some lawn mowing of weed-eating, huh?"

I said, "No, I'm gonna take this gallon of gas, pour it in my truck and drive to it to Dallas."

Just like one of those "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" features I used to love in MAD magazine. I honestly thought she would get the humor in it, but she appeared to be insulted. Which made me wonder...did she just have absolutely no sense of humor or am I really such a prick?

It could go either way.

6.21.2008

I finally got a chance to mow the lawn yesterday. The grass has been wet from all the rain for the last couple of weeks, so I’ve had to put it off. It sure needed mowing. I don’t necessarily “dread” mowing. I don’t look forward to it, but once I get started I don’t mind. My dad used to enjoy mowing, but then, he liked to do just about anything that required work. He was a textbook example of a “workaholic”.

When we first moved into this house, I suspected it would be a “short term solution” to our home problems. Stacie was not of the same mind, because, for one thing, she was not about to up and move too soon after the trouble of doing all the packing, loading and every other aspect of the relocation by ourselves. I don’ blame her and I am in total agreement that moving is a drag. I’ve done it so many times. I don’t even want to think about it.

My initial problem with the situation we found ourselves in was not so much the prospect of having to uproot ourselves again. It was the house itself. It’s simply too small, any way you look at it. Bryan’s room is pitifully small. He deserves better. It is a testament to his good nature that he hasn’t once complained about it. Closet space in the bedrooms are about 1/3 as big as we need them to be. It’s just an old house and it looks it’s age. I was more than happy to take it when it was necessary…when our finances weren’t as steady as they had been. But now that my disability benefits have begun coming in, we are in a position to do much better than this. Moving is what I’ve wanted to do ever since we first got here, but I’ve lived in worse, I could handle it as long as Stacie could.

After three months, her opinion of the house has changed. Her resolve to stay here, even for a little while has dwindled. The pros of leaving (even with the hassle of moving) have outweighed the cons of staying here, even if not for the same reasons that I initially had.

The first sign that this was not the place for us was when two of the windows began to fill up with water at the sill when it rained hard. Water pooled up in them and spilled out onto the floor to the point where we had to put large towels in the sill to soak up the excess and big bowls underneath to catch the run off. It looked to be a problem with the gutter. We called the landlord (a Mennonite to whom we’ve given the nickname “Ol’ Boy”). He wasn’t home so we left a message on his answering machine. It was a couple of weeks before he returned our call. He told us he’d been busy, he had a lot of doors to make (he’s a carpenter), but he’d get to it as soon as he could. That was about a week ago and he has not showed up, hasn’t even called.

The next big issue manifested itself a few days ago and involves the toilet stool. I’d just as soon not go into details on that, if you don’t mind. Suffice to say it was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Stacie’s determination to saty here.

To top it all off, Stacie found a tarantula in the kitchen this morning. I didn’t get a chance to see it, as I was still in bed, but she tells me it was not a small one (are there any such things as “small tarantulas”?). I figure it must have found it’s way through our back door after I mowed, it’s tall grass abode having been cut down. But I don’t know…it could have been lurking around the kitchen for a long time. It doesn’t matter, none of us want to live in a place where tarantulas come from out of nowhere. Bryan is slightly arachnophobia, so I’m glad he wasn’t the one who stumbled upon it. I don’t think we’ll be telling him about it, either.

Our financial situation will prevent us from doing anything until next month. Until then the search is on for a better house. Hopefully we’ll be able to find something very nice, if for no other reason than that we aren’t in the position where we HAVE to take the first half-way decent house that comes our way. If the debacle of our last home ownership disaster hasn’t wrecked our chances, we might even buy a house. It depends on whether or not a realtor takes the time to understand what position we were in when we lost the last one and can see that we’re now able to afford a mortgage payment.

Regardless, we are out of here, the sooner the better. Wish us luck.

A new channel from our local cable TV provider: RFD TV. A television network aimed primarily at farmers, it also airs old re-runs of the classic country music programs like “The Buck Owens Show”, “The Porter Wagoner Show”, “Pop Goes the Country” and I don’t know how many other.

This is a MAJOR development for me. I’ve missed those shows, especially Porter Wagoner’s, and it’s great to see them again. I wasn’t even ten years old when I first saw them. Dad tuned in every week. He was partial to Porter’s show, but I remember liking Buck Owens better. I used to run around singing “Tiger By The Tail” all the time. One of the only memories I have of my maternal grandmother is when she requested that I sing that song for her. No doubt everyone there thought it was cute (and no doubt it WAS).

They also show Cajun chef Justin Wilson’s old PBS show. Dad loved that one, too. He used to affect Wilson’s speech so much that I’d have to say “enough’s enough!” The memories kind of spill out when I watch that one, too.

6.19.2008

Purgatorio

While "researching" the previous blog, I stumbled upon...


I like it so much I'm going to place it in my ESSENTIALS link list. No small feat for a website I only discovered 30 minutes ago.

Check it out, peoples.

Bob Larson hams it up with Satan

A week or two I blogged about Bob Larson, the rock and roll hating, demon chasing exorcist who has a new series scheduled for October, 2008, on the Sci-Fi network, "The Real Exorcist". Today I was on YouTube looking for exorcism videos. I was actually searching for footage of Roy Masters, whose meditation exercise I once practiced (to my detriment, IMO), and who has a reputation for doing exorcisms at his ranch in Grant's Pass, Oregon. Instead, I found several installments of what I take to be an introductory episode of "The Real Exorcist". There are 5 parts, they are very high quality and I assume that, joined together, they make up the show in it's entirety.

Two words immediately came to my mind when I first watched these: BIZARRE and RIDICULOUS. This is going to be one hell of a comedy series, maybe the best one ever shown on Sci-Fi. It may even be the funniest show of all time. In a sad way.

Billed as a "reality show", somehow I doubt it. Larson may not be acting, but I guarantee he loves that camera. I'll bet he's ecstatic to finally have an audience bigger than the ones the religious networks can give him. The only thing "real" about this series is the instability of it's star's mental status.

No doubt he's also hamming it up, loving every minute of it, because it virtually guarantees that millions of dollars that will pour into the coffers of his Spiritual Freedom Church International (Inc.!!!!!!!!!). As the abundance of quack televangelists will attest, and as P.T. Barnum so eloquently put it, "There's a sucker born every minute."









Thank God they've finally FOUND IT!


...from The World's Only Reliable Newspaper, the legendary WEEKLY WORLD NEWS.

Ha! This is one of the most festive photographs of Sigur Ros I've ever seen! Hilarious!

Here is a review of the Kansas City show, from Buzzine. The reviewer, Nicole Pope, doesn't seem to know which song the horn section showed up in. It was "Se Lest", as it always is, but she has it down as "Hufupukar", which, frankly, I have never heard of. Odd, because one of her own photographs shows a set list and there is certainly no mention of any "Hufupakur"

She also uses that dreaded word "Hopelandic". Sheesh.

It's nice to have a review of the Uptown show, but from reading Pope's peice you'd think that she had just witnessed a meeting of Jesus Christ, Guatama Buddha and Krishna. If you think I go overboard, wait till you read this.

"You Don't Mess Around With the Zohan"

I was very disappointed with this move, as the promotional clips were funny. Maybe if I was still struggling through pubescence I might be kinder to "Zohan", I very well may have loved it. But one idiotic ribald joke/situation after another grows tiring very quickly. The tries to make some lame point about "why can't we just get along, hey, this is America, we're all equal here, right?" Obvious as that is, at least the sentiment is a good one. Too bad it gets bogged down in so much "almost-already-out-of-date" topical humor and the above mentioned onslaught of crudity.

Plus, the character, Zohan, is one of the least likable ones Adam Sandler has ever played. That alone sinks the film.


NOTE TO ANY PARENTS WHO MAY BE CONSIDERING TAKING THE YOUNGSTERS TO SEE "ZOHAN"...it wasn't very long ago when a movie filled with this much sexually-oriented content would have been given an R rating. There's no flat out nudity (unless you count a couple of shots of Sandler's ass), but make no mistake, the gratuitous sexual references in "You Don't Mess Around With the Zohan" are as thick as flies on a piece of...well, you get my drift. It's a wonder there weren't hordes of them buzzing around the screen when I saw this yesterday.

PS...for the record, I AM NO PRUDE, but there comes a point when enough is enough, it's just not funny anymore. "Zohan" reached that point within the first 30 minutes.

6.18.2008



Vacation Journal Part 3: 6.14.08

The third and final installment...

6.14.08


6:05 am

No big bookstores that we could find – Springfield is much larger than I thought it was (did I already say that?). We didn’t go to Fantastic Caverns and probably won’t today. Either. Maybe do that some other time.

Instead we’ll be stopping in Branson on the way home to pay a visit to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum (update: See photos in post from a couple of days ago). Bryan has wanted to go there for some time.

There’s a Beatles tribute show there at 2:00 pm, and I’d like to see itm but I don’t know if we’re going to be done with the other stuff by then (update: We did not get to see “Liverpool Legends” for various reasons, but it will be on the agenda the next time we go to Branson, maybe as soon as next month). Plus, I don’t know how much tickets cost, etc. etc. …

No matter. Truth be told, I am worn out (update: I think I’ve already said that too, but boy, oh boy, it was so true). We had the swimming pool to ourselves yesterday afternoon. Stacie and I spent a good amount of time in the spa (which was, along with the pool, MUCH better than the ones at the Hilton Garden Inn in KC). BTW, we are in a suite at the Baymont Inn, not too far from the airport. It’s by far the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Jacuzzi in the room and all.

We left out to eat dinner not knowing what we might find. As it turned out, there was a Western Sizzlin steakhouse not too far from the hotel. We haven’t eaten at one of those in years. I remember it being pretty good on almost every occasion, food and service both.

Hard-wired to devour a buffet when given the choice, that’s exactly what I did I ate TOO much, I have to admit it. As I walked out the EXIT door it occurred to me that a better idea would have been to merely ordered up a nice, well-done steak with some French fries and call that “dinner”. Instead, like a fool I gorged myself. I am paying dearly for it this morning. I do not think I will be eating very much today.

All in all it’s been a nice vacation. I wish it could have been just the three of us (wife, son and I), but I’m not complaining (update: YET). The situation allowed for Stacie and I to have our own room last nigh…which is ANOTHER reason I’m pooped (hardy har har, wink-wink, nudge nudge).

Actually, I am ready to get back home. Our dog must be terribly lonely. My father-in-law checked in on him last night – gave him food and water. He gave him his medicine. I don’t think Limba has spent quite so much time with us gone. I’m hoping he’ll be okay.

Alright – there’s no way I’m going to be able to sleep. I’ll probably read awhile, but first I’m going to the convenience store and buying a can of Monster. Maybe spend a minute on the Business Room computer.



9:05 am

Heading out. Left the hotel about 5 minutes ago, sat in the parking lot all that time trying to figure out where we were and where we needed to be.

My vote was to go to Fantastic Caverns, as we had planned to do yesterday. But it looks like I’m out-numbered on this one. We’re headed for Branson for the sole purpose of walking through the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum (update: as I learned later, this was NOT the only reason). I guess that’s okay. Bryan will like it.

I ate a couple of biscuits with gravy at the hotel’s complimentary breakfast. It was NOT the best gravy I’ve ever had. Then again, it wasn’t the worst, either. It was decent when covered with lots of salt and pepper. When it cooled down, though, I couldn’t eat it. Yuk.



9:30 am

If not for all the unique billboard advertising Branson shows and reviews, this stretch of land between Springfield and Branson would be a boring one, indeed.

Most (if not all) of these signs are ridiculous. From all I’ve heard, Branson is more or less a “poor man’s Nashville”. That’s a bit harsh, but there certainly are a bevy of shows featuring performers who passed their prime years ago. Lots of “tribute” stuff. One has to wonder how hard it must be to find someone who not only LOOKS but also SINGS like Alan Jackson…or Johnny Cash…or Roy Orbison…or…you name it. If he/she even comes close to “legendary” status, you’ll find someone who impersonates them here.

Come to think of it – is it realistic to consider that Alan Jackson has reached “legendary status”??? (update: Apparently Reba McEntire and Shania Twain have, too…inexplicable and not a little bit disturbing)

One thing that seems very popular around here are the Ozark Mountain Backwoods Hillbilly Comedy Reviews (as I would call them). The Baldknobbers are a good example. A straight man (or woman) and a bunch of toothless goons sporting bottles of moonshine and making ridiculous faces, smiling widely to show of rotting teeth. You’d have to pay me to see one of these idiot fests.

I will say this – as you get closer to Branson, into Ozark mountain territory, the scenery turns mighty pretty.



12:45 pm

We went to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and it was actually a lot of fun. They had a display about “tongue-rolling”, complete with a mirror so you could see just how well you could roll your own. But what you don’t know is that you’re on the other side of a one-way mirror and people nearing the end of the museum can see you. What makes it funny, to me, is that these people have no idea they are being watched. Then you realize that people had been looking at YOU not too long before and you think back to remember if you had tried to roll your tongue.

No, I did not.

My favorite exhibit at the museum was a holographic man speaking from a dark room…Ever since I saw the movie “Wild Palms” I have believed that one day these holographic images will deliver our news for is instead of TVs, and much more. This display made me realize that this idea very well could become reality much sooner than I’d thought.

Next we stopped at Taco Bell. I wasn’t too hungry. But I figured I’d eat a Mexican pizza. They fucked up the order and I got Nachos Grande. I don’t know how in the fuck anyone can call that a “meal”. If it weren’t for the soft taco that came with it I would have walked out hungry.

Next, Stacie and her sister wanted to go to some winery – apparently their folks wanted a bottle of this wine and there’s a wine tour. I could give less than a fuck about any of that, so I’m sitting out in the car with Bryan. I was going to go to the Tanger Outlet Mall and hang out at the clearance book store, to wait there while they visited the winery. But this particular Tanger mall didn’t have one. So I said I would go to another mall while they did the wine thing.

~~~~~~A portion of this journal has been deleted at this point for various reasons~~~~~

Maybe we’ll come to Branson again, someday (update: Meaning only the three of us, Stacie, Bryan and myself). I don’t know if there’s really any other (good) reason to return, other than the bargains on new clothes at the Tanger Mall. The Beatles tribute looks interesting and fun, but practically everything else is lame. Fuckin’ Presley Jubilee, with it’s hillbilly goofiness… The fuckin’ Baldknobbers seem to own a whole goddamn block – Baldknobbers theater, Baldknobbers lodging, Baldknobbers general store – it’s pathetic (update: Perhaps it is plain to see that I was not in a very good mood after departing the winery...).

~~~~~~~Another portion of this journal has been deleted at this point for various reasons~~~~~



3:05 pm

Still about 100 miles from Tulsa, the cramped conditions in this back seat are killing me. It sure seems like the trip back has been longer than the trip up there. But that can’t be, not even with the Branson side-track. At any rate, I am worn down. Perhaps that’s been obvious.

I think it was all the swimming that has me so sore. The standing in line before the Sigur Ros show…the standing DURING the Sigur Ros show…that had to add to it. Don’t guess it matters much, We aren’t even in Joplin yet, which means we haven’t even crossed into Oklahoma.

I would be much happier were I behind the wheel. And as much as I bitched and moaned about the music she plays on the radio, the silence has become boring. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of wish she’d turn it on and I don’t even care what music is playing.

I know this – I’m in the mood for some Sigur Ros. I think I’ll slap on “Agaetis Byrjun” on as soon as I get home, lay down and try to take a nap. At least wind down and give my back something softer to lie against besides this hard back seat.

There are no fuckin’ armrests back here, either. This thing was not made to haul four comfortably. If it WAS I would have to say that the designers failed miserably. By the way, it’s a Vibe (update: At the time I had just learned this). What a hokey name for a car.



5:35 pm

Arriving in Sapulpa (update: back in Oklahoma).

It’s almost over!

Whoo!

I probably should not written much of what I didd a few hours ago. But I won’t take it back.

~~~~~Yet another portion of this journal has been deleted at this point for various reasons~~~~~

Stopped at a Quik Trip about 30 minutes ago and I actually bought a copy of the National Enquirer. I found myself in the mood for some campy, trashy reading. Since I haven’t been able to find the Weekly World News lately and since they didn’t have the Globe, I went ahead and got the Enquirer. It’s not half as hokey as the others, and that’s what I’m looking for – but it will do in a pinch.

Then I realized that it’s probably considered “gay” for a man to read this gossipy junk. Oh, well. Let the masses think what they will. There is some funny stuff in there, and a decent crossword puzzle. That’s all I wanted.

The National Enquirer’s price has skyrocketed since I last bought one. It’s $3.49. I’m certain it was less than a dollar when I last wasted money on one…



~~~~~~This is where the journal leaves off. Tired of writing, I cast it to the side and said, “fuck it!”.

We got back to our place of departure at around 6:00 or 7:00 pm (though it seemed like it was a LOT later than that). We were kind of hungry, so we stopped at Mazzio’s. I didn’t think I was as hungry as I was…the effect of all the Monsters and RockStars I’d consumed over the weekend. But I did force myself to eat a nice, big salad and I felt better for it.

I did play some Sigur Ros when I got home, and sleep was not long in coming.

It was a very nice vacation, despite some “distractions”. As expected, the Sigur Ros concert was amazing (though I was dealing with a little bit of “large crowd paranoia” which hindered my enjoyment of it just a little bit). The hotels were nice, especially the Baymont. The Branson main strip was a sight to behold. The trip itself was tedious, but in the long run it was well worth the trouble.

Music Video of the Week: Curtis Mayfield

You must pause the Sigur Ros jukebox to get the full sonic effect of this 70's classic from the movie "Superfly".

"Pusherman"
Curtis Mayfield


6.16.2008

I wasn't sure how much my 13 year old son would like the Sigur Ros show...he was hesitant to go. Perhaps because he disagrees with my assessment that they are better than the Beatles ever were (ha). He was subdued for much of the performance...

...but at this very moment he is playing the finale of "Olsen Olsen" on his piano! And last night he added it to the Project Playlist player on his blog and MySpace page. Not only that, I caught him looking up Icelandic to English translations. !!!

If that were enough, he just now played a segment of "Hoppipolla"!

Yessirree, Bob, I'll make a fan of him yet! :)

Vacation Journal Part 2: 6.13.08

6.13.08
7:45 am

God, I am worn out this morning. Between the swimming and the standing (more on that later) my legs feel like they’ve run a marathon.

But first, before the promised “non-musical aspects”, here are a couple more from the “musical” ones.

The band were persuaded to come back onstage for an encore. They performed the last track from the new album, the “all-English” “All Alright”. It is a lovely song that will no doubt become one of my favorites (slowly, though, as was the case with “Heysatan”). Jonsi stood in the middle of the stage looking vulnerable. It was weird to see him without a guitar strapped over his shoulder or behind a keyboard. The song itself is so intimate – watching him sing it in front of several hundred people was a treat.

As I said (and a EVERYONE in the Sigur Ros fan base knows, “All Alright” is the first song they’ve ever written with all the lyrics in English. No matter, I still don’t understand 90% of them. I’ll look them up on the internet when we get home.

The Uptown theater is NOT a small venue. Therefore the acoustics left much to be desired, even with a packed house to absorb the sound. As with all rock concerts it was too loud for my seasoned/sensitive ears. The bass guitar was muddy (which seems to happen at EVERY hall larger than a club, and even then…). The keyboards and glockenspiels weren’t crisp enough and were also mixed a little too loud. The strings and horns fared much better, though the quartet got buried a couple of times. The drums were well mixed. Most importantly, Jonsi’s voice floated over the relative din perfectly. His bowed guitar was not agonizingly loud like you’d think it would be.

I know that sounds very critical, but all in all there was nothing to complain about with the over-all sound quality. It was a lot better than most shows I’ve been to in the past.

Okay – now for the “non-musical aspects” of the show…


First, the lights. Having seen Sugur Ros’ light show during the “()” tour in 2002 I was expecting a lot more than what they had last night. Very basic lighting with the standard color changes, dimming and brightening, spotlights on Jonsi wherever he went. A nice big flash during the short, heavy section of “Sven-G-Englar” and that was really about all there was to it.

Still, it was nice visually with the band dressed in sleek black suits and the horn section all decked out in white tuxedos. When the horns marched onto the stage at the end of “Se Lest” it was cool as hell. They were on stage for the rest of the show, so the black/white combo looked nice and sleek beneath the bright colored lights.

The audience was exactly as I thought they would be. EXTREMELY diverse. Very supportive of the band. They (we)were rowdy as hell between songs, but when the music was playing you could hear a pin drop. Everyone knew the material well, too, as was evidenced when no one began applauding at the wrong time in “Heysatan”.

There was a little problem with people standing up in front of us. I suppose it was to be expected, as we were not too far behind the light & sound boards. The engineers stood for much of the time so I shouldn’t have thought it odd or rude when a guy stood up…I wasn’t even thinking, at the time, that he probably couldn’t see a damn thing with them in front of him (update: I would have, and really SHOULD have done the same thing). But he was met with a chorus of “sit down!” from behind. I don’t know why I felt like I had to join in – he wasn’t even directly in front of me – but I did.

The calls for him to sit down continued until he turned around and said he couldn’t see for the engineers being in his way. I said, “Yeah, but now we can’t see because you’re in the way!” I said it a little too “angrily”, I know I did. And I’m sure I looked like a fool, siding with the people who actually were behind him.

I’d like to forget about that.

It didn’t matter in the long run, because people stood up for one reason or another anyway. One dolt, though, with long, frizzy hair tied back into a pony tail, stood up inexplicably when the band was playing “Olsen Olsen”. I couldn’t see a goddamn thing. It was making me mad again. It might not have been so bad if he had sat down after the song was over, but no – eventually everyone was on their feet and it didn’t matter. Truth is that everyone SHOULD have stood up from the very beginning of the show. Then there would have been no problems. Did I mention that there was not a bad seat to be found in that place? (update: Now that I think about, the frizzy haired dude might have stood up out of spite, because he got a good round of “sit down” himself earlier from those behind him…I don’t blame him, now that it’s all over).

The crowd consisted mainly of younger people. In their mid-20s for the most part. I did spot a few who appeared to be my age and a couple even looked OLDER than me (*gasp!*). I thought it was cool that there were some older folks in the lot. They obviously have better taste in music than the vast majority of their demographic. Of course, that’s only my opinion, and since I belong to that particular demographic myself it probably looks like I’m tooting my own horn.

Maybe I AM! ANYBODY who digs Sigur Ros has excellent taste. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

As for Bryan – I thought he might well be the youngest person there, but we did spot a couple of kids, tagging along with their mother, who couldn’t have been much older than him.

As for what Bryan thought of the concert – it’s really hard to tell with him. He is so reserved and timid – painfully so. It was kije he was in another, unfamiliar world (update: Which, now that I think about it, he was). When the audience cheered loudly he quietly clapped his hands (update: Which is cool, if that’s his way…I don’t mean to criticize). He even sat down during a couple of songs during the beginning when everyone else was standing. But he did get up when they kicked into “Hoppipolla”, which is one that he likes a lot. As I said, he politely applauded after each song, but you would have thought he was at a concert of the Royal Philharmonic (update: See last update). He DID seem to really get into the spirit of things for “Gobbledigook”, clapping hands like everyone else…even I was clapping during the song, which is something I never do.

When it was all over we walked out of the theater into rain from what looked like the tail end of a thunderstorm. Bryan called Stacie to tell her the show was over, to come get us. She was already there, in a parking lot across the street. She told me there had been a tornado in the area and that the hotel staf had sent everyone down to the basement while we were gone.

We never would have known. I’m sure the Uptown has been standing for a long, long time. It has weathered many a storm. I doubt the one that swung by yesterday was going to inflict any more damage than the ones that came before it over the course of who knows how many years.

That’s my position when it comes to storms and tornadoes. Stacie says it’s stupid and irresponsible, but you have to drag me to the cellar even when the siren’s blowing. Why get freaked out? I mean, the last house we lived in was built in 1962. It was EXACTLY the same age as I am. I have seen some hellacious storms in my 46 years – so has that house! Not one of those storms ever did any damage to that dwelling. What are the chances that it’s going to be any different the next time a twister blows through? (update: I suppose the answer to that would be “a tiny bit greater than they were before the last one”…I suppose Stacie’s right about my stand, but I am stubborn and
Probably in denial)

I ain’t worried.



10:20 am

We’re loading up our stuff. Getting ready to check out of the hotel. BTW, it’s a Hilton Garden Inn. I don’t know how much we paid for the room but I hope it wasn’t much more than some Holiday Inn would have cost. It didn’t have much going for it, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t BAD, but I have a sneaky feeling it wasn’t worth nearly as much as we paid for it.

The plan now is to go south to Springfield (Missouri). We’ll probably eat here in Kansas City then head on down (update: This turned out not to be the case). Not sure if we’re going to Fantastic Caverns before checking in or after. At first I thought we should go to the hotel first, so we could get all our shit unpacked before doing anything. That way it would all be done before we got back and we could relax.

But then again, if we go to the caves before, a little earlier, there will be a better chance of possibly doing something else later…



11:20 am

Our driver has been hopelessly lost for at LEAST the last 30 minutes, but FINALLY it appears that we are back on track. It’s a good thing we’re not on a tight schedule.

The city is HUGE! I probably wouldn’t mind living here, but it would require a LOT of adjusting. Especially navigating the highways.

There are several places we should have made plans to visit on this road. The American Jazz Museum would have been cool. There are a couple of art museums that I’m sure would have many more (and more varied) displays than anything in Oklahoma. Perhaps another time. I’ve already done what I came here to do…I’m content to go along with just about anything they want to do today.



11:45 am

I just have to say that the higheays in Missouri are just as bad as, and mayber even worse, than the onews in Kansas. Not all of them, mind you, but the ones that are rough are REALLY rough. The baddest roadways I’ve driven on in Oklahoma are in Tulsa, and some of these are MUCH worse.

I’m hoping that we’ll stopping soon for lunch.



11:47 am

Apparently there is a town here named PECULIAR, as I just sae a road sign twlling us that it was 6 miles down the road. Peculiar…now that’s a peculiar name, don’t you think?

Ha. I’ll bet I’m not the first one to say that.



1:00 pm

Yes, indeed, there IS a Peculiar, Missouri, and we just ate lunch there. It was a buffet at a place called Country Market (update: I have since then been informed by my wife that it was the restaurant section of a Flying J truck stop…I saw “Country Market” on a sign in front of the general area so I assumed…).

I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT! At $7.99 it’s cheaper than Golden Corral, but it’s a lot smaller. I don’t mind that, but most all of the food was disappointing. The roast beef was okay, but the potatoes that come with it were hard as stone. The carrots weren’t exactly “hard”, but they had this thick, sponge-like texture which rendered them inedible. The salad bar wasn’t quite as bad, but the ranch dressing was watery and the French didn’t taste very good.

All in all I would venture to say that we won’t be eating at a Country Market again. However, the adjoining convenience store/gift shop had a lot of cool stuff you don’t see all the time.

The Monster (energy drinks) were “on sale” @ 2 for $5.00. They’re cheaper that that all the time at home. I got the last one in the cooler, so it would appear that they are selling well at that price in Peculiar, Missouri.

Also purchased:

~~~ 1 Big Hunk candy bar
~~~ 1 Slim Jim pepperoni & cheese snack
~~~ 1 bottle Perrier water



2:30 pm

Good God, but the trip between Peculiar and Springfield is tedious and boring, especially having been on the road for so long already (and yesterday, too – let’s not forget the standing in line for the Sigur Ros concert – that wears one out, too).

The only half-way interesting thing we saw was some Amish dude in a horse drawn carriage. I assume there is an Amish community somewhere in the general vicinity (update: Which would seem like a “duh”, but then again, you wouldn’t expect one of them to be where we were, either).

It’s beginning to rain a little bit. The weather forecasters said it looked like some severe weather might be hitting Springfield later tonight – picked a nice weekend for a vacation, didn’t we? (Well, WE didn’t choose it. If the show had been next month that’s when we would be here. It was a “rain or shine” deal).

Bryan decided he wanted a Java Monster. I had one yesterday and gave him a sip of it. He liked it a lot and so we got him one on our last stop at Peculiar. He hasn’t developed a taste for straight coffee yet, but since we took him to Starbucks last week he keeps asking to go back and he can’t get enough of Java Chillers at Sonic.

Anyhoo, he just gave me the last ¼ of his “Locamoca” Java Monster. He said, “I don’t think I can down anymore…I’m awake now.” Indeed he is (update: He was a little TOO awake, if you get my drift). So I’m drinking the rest of it. Damned good, but I’ve already had probably 20 ounces of regular monster (with half a 24 ounce can left to go). I don’t need anymore. Still, I don’t get too wired up on these things because I tend to drink them slowly. I don’t “chug” them. I think I’ll be good to go for the rest of the night, though.



3:15 pm

Having a difficult time finding Fantastic Caverns, but I’m sure it will all get sorted out soon.

Stopped at a convenience store so I could use the restroom. Someone had written on the stall “Fuck me running”. Someone else had written, beneath it, “Start running”.

HA! It’s good to know that the comedic bathroom graffiti tradition is still alive and well.

Cheapest gas here I’ve seen in a couple of weeks. At $3.71 a gallon, that’s sad.



3:40 pm

The main roads to Fantastic Caverns are all washed out from the rain, so we are postponing our visit till tomorrow. We just arrived at the hotel, and it does look, from the outside at least, like it will be better than the last (update: It was infinitely better than the last).

Springfield appears to be much bigger than I initially thought it was, and since we’ll have some time to kill, I’m hoping there is a Borders or a Barnes & Noble nearby.

Vacation Journal Part 1: Thursday 6.12.08

While typing out the Vacation Journal I decided that it would be much too lengthy to fit into one post, so I've decided to divide it into three separate parts, corresponding with the 3 days of our getaway. They'll still be very long, but not quite so unmanageable as if I'd published the thing in it's entirety.



6.12.08
8.00 am

We are leaving Cushing after an uneventful trip to meet up with my wife’s sister, Stefanie. She’ll be driving at least half the distance to Kansas City. Stacie will pick up the slack, driving the rest of the way (update: Stefanie wound up driving the whole way, of her own accord).

We’re in Stefanie’s car – I don’t even know what kind it is (update: it’s a Vibe), only that it’s fairly “roomy” (update: this opinion will change radically by the time we’re on the road home). The ride is much bumpier than I would expect from a car this size. The problem is the shitty roads. Maybe it will become smoother when we get on the Turnpike or a major highway off of these back city roads (update: we didn’t get on the Turnpike until we were on the way home).

It’s actually a beautiful morning. The temperature is agreeable; though you can already feel a slight mugginess that lets you know that a humid day is in store. That would be drag if we all planned to be outside for the majority of the vacation. As it is, I believe we’ll be lounging in cool, air-conditioned comfort most of the time.


8:15 am

We’re going through Drumright now. Drumright isn’t much of a town. It’s most memorable features are the steep; hills that form the main (only?) road through it. Lots of shops like the main street but it would appear that the vast majority of them have been vacant for a long time.

The plan for today is to arrive in Kansas City, maybe eat a large lunch (so I won’t want dinner), check into the hotel, change into my swimsuit, then relax in the pool and the sauna for an hour of two (update: there were no saunas at either of the hotels we stayed at, but there were spas at both, and that made up for it). My legs will probably be sore, maybe even cramping by the time the journey ends. It will do them a world of good to float in the water and sweat in the sauna.

Depending on how long I stay in the pool area, I may have a snack before 5:00, but I will be in the shower getting ready for the show no later than that.

Bryan and I plan to get in line at 6:00 pm to wait out the next two hours with the hope of getting a choice seat. It’s probably unrealistic to think that we’ll be at the very front of that line – I’m sure there are Sigur Ros fanatics who are even more hardcore than I am – but surely a 2 hour head start will ensure a nice spot in the center of the theater. Maybe about 10-15 yards from the stage (update: Though we did get the seats we wanted, even if they were a little farther from the stage than I hoped the would be, my theory about the 2 hour wait in line proved to be extremely off the mark, as I will speak of later).

I wouldn’t mind being on the floor, but I know the sound level will be awfully loud there. I’d just as soon not leave the theater with more hearing loss than I already have. Furthermore, it just doesn’t sound like a good idea to stand throughout the concert after standing for so long in line (update: I now wish we HAD stood up for the entire length of the show, what with many people not being able to decide between sitting down and standing up, and one particularly annoying fellow who blocked my view on at least two occasions). It will be much better, I’m sure, to be able to lounge back, just close enough to the band to see everything clearly, and far enough from the stage that we’ll be able to enjoy the light show to it’s fullest effect.

I have no doubts whatsoever that the concert will be awesome. They were incredible when I first saw them in 2002 and I wasn’t nearly as big a fan then as I am now. I wanted to see the “Takk” tour but that never happened. I’m hoping there will be plenty of songs from that album played tonight.

I guess I’m ready to hear them play songs from the new album. I’ve listened to it 4 or 5 time now. As is usually the case, it seems to get better each time I hear it. I’ll recognize them tonight and know them well enough to follow along.

I’m overjoyed that Bryan is coming with me. I feel certain that not only will he love it, it will be one of the best memories he’ll carry throughout his life (update: upon further consideration I realized that this might be a little bit “wishful thinking” – but then again, perhaps not). Not so much the concert itself (though that will be a big part of it) but for the way he’ll see me. Maybe that sounds odd – let me explain…

I don’t think he’s ever seen the exuberant side of me that will manifest itself tonight. Hell, not even I, myself, experience it very often at all. But tonight I’ll be cheering wildly, clapping my hands like a mad man, or sitting back in a theater seat enraptured by this music that moves me so. Maybe some of that will spill out and over to him. I think that would be a good thing. I know it’s not good, the way I usually am, so absurdly guarded , reserved, devoid of emotion – not that I’m actually emotionally dry, but I have become quite adept at keeping it all within. Not just the bad stuff – ALL OF IT. Maybe that will change one day. I’m very sure that it is a result of my bipolar disorder. The times when I’ve “let it all hang out”, so to speak, usually either precipitate a bad manic streak (and we know what that leads to) or another depression where Ill regret letting down my guard. I’ll become embarrassed of it. No one knows what to expect from me an I am consciously aware of how disappointed they are on both extremes of my illness (update: I’m not sure what I meant by this or who I was talking about as “they”. Probably Stacie and Bryan). No doubt it’s harder on them than it is on me.



8:55 am

We’re cruising through the middle of Tulsa on Hwy 44. As far as Oklahoma goes, Tulsa is probably my favorite city. It’s hard to find your way around it, though.

I think I’ll read for a little while. I bought a book called “Nothing But the Truth” – I couldn’t even tell you the author’s name without looking at the cover (and I’m not going to do that) (update: the guy’s name is John Lescroart, and it’s actually a good, entertaining book). As one might surmise from the title, it’s a courtroom drama of sorts. Very easy reading. I also brought the Robert Jordan book I’ve been reading for what seems like FOREVER. I’m positive that my slow progress with this one is the direct result of the fucked up eyeglasses I got from Dr. Radell last September. I’ve tried my damnedest to get used to them, but now I realize that there’s GOT to be some problem with the glasses themselves. Either the lens makers cut one (or both) of them wrong or Radell’s prescription was faulty. Either way, I finally called his office about it. I know I took WAY too long to contact him, but the last couple of times I went there to get them adjusted (thinking that was all that would be necessary to correct the problem) I got the distinct impression that he was “put out” with me, that he thought I was wasting his time, that he thought I was some kind of optical hypochondriac and he didn’t have time for it. Maybe – probably I’m wrong about all of that. Whatever. I only hope we get it taken care of when I take them back in on the 23rd. Until then I’ll have to wear the old pair…I wouldn’t mind wearing the old ones but they have some nasty scratches that are hard to ignore some of the time.

Anyhoo…I was under the impression, before we began this trek, that
The radio would be played at a volume so low that I would hardly notice it. Stacie said that was the way Stefanie always plays it - so low you can barely hear it. I had certainly hoped that would be the case, but, as comparatively low as it is, alas, I still can hear it. AAARRGGHHHH!!!! I don’t mean to denigrate anyone’s taste in music, but this radio station they listen to plays some of the most abysmal CRAP that’s ever been recorded. EXAMPLE: They just finished playing “Calling All Angels” by Train. Barf! Not so much that the song is terrible, but even if it were halfway decent musically there’s still the singer’s voice, which affects me much in the same way as fingernails on a chalkboard.

I don’t know the name of the one they played before that one – the song that inspired me to write about how horrible this station is – it could have been Jewel of Sheryl Crow or any of a dozen clones whose wares get on my nerves to such a painful degree.

At least it lets up when we’re on lengthy stretch of road, when the main noise is the sound of wheels on pavement. If I were driving, and had I a car stereo, this sound would be squelched by loud music of my own choosing. Alas, this was not possible. As it is, I much prefer the rubber hitting the road to the tripe coming from the speakers right now.

But hey, I thought I said I was going to read…



12:25 pm

Actually I didn’t get around to reading at all. Reading in the car, with all the movement, proved to be more trouble than I expected with all the movement in the car. I might take it up again later, but for now I’m enjoying the scenery. We arrived in Kansas not too long ago (I didn’t check for the time). The roads are awfully rough.

Decided to eat lunch in a city called Iola, at a Pizza Hut. It was probably the nicest Pizza Hut I’ve ever been to, as far as the restaurant itself. But the buffet was kind of small. Surely they must bring stuff out on a regular basis because the place was fairly crowded and there were, at most, 4 or 5 pizzas to choose from.

The sky is very slightly overcast, and it is a bit humid. I hope it doesn’t rain, or if it does, that it won’t begin until after the doors open at the Uptown.

From what I’ve seen on the internet, the venue appears to be relatively small. Smaller the better, I say.

There IS a chance of thunderstorms tonight, so says the Kansas City Star newspaper. Once again, that’s fine with me as long as I’m in the theater and the show goes on…

Back on the road, I think I’ll lay this down and gawk out the window some more.

TRIVIAL ASIDE: I had to go back to the new glasses for now. The old ones are better for reading, but they are quite scratched up = I don’t know how they got that way. With a little effort I can make the new ones work – hell, I’ve been doing it for the last 9 months. So what if I wind yup with a headache and tired eyes? Maybe it will be okay. I should probably stop worrying, eh?



2:05 pm

We’re about 30 miles from Kansas City and I am pretty much ready to abet out of this car. Bryan’s bored shitless. There’s nothing much to seed on this last stretch of highway until we reach our destination. I’m wanting to swing by the theater so I can see what it looks like. I’m thinking our hotel check in time is 3:00 pm, so we should have plenty of time to do it. It all depends on the driver.



4:30 pm

We arrived at the hotel right at 3:00 o’clock. Didn’t get to swing by the theater. Oh, well.

The motel seems nice. Our room is okay. Bryan and I went down to the swimming pool (our room is on the 4th floor). It was actually very small. 5 feet at it’s deepest (update: it was the same at the next hotel, so that may be the standard…I wouldn’t know because I have stayed in so few hotels). That was a little disappointing, but we made the best of it. Bryan had a good time and it was relaxing for me. Especially the spa. Quite invigorating to go from the heat of the spa to the cold water in the pool.

From the reports on the TV it would appear that there are a few tornadoes in the area. I don’t know how far away from us they are, but it doesn’t look too bad out the window.

Stacie is parked in front of the TV. She always watches the severe storm reports any time they are on. She knows more about meteorology than most people from watching all the severe weather bulletins.

The guy who is doing the report is very calm, compared to the ones in Oklahoma. Especially Mike Morgan.



11:15 pm

Boy, did I underestimate how soon that line would form. It stretched back for two blocks when we got there a little past 6:00 pm. I was discouraged, thinking we wouldn’t get good seats. But I guess the theater was much bigger than I thought it would be, because we were able to sit exactly where I had wanted.

Fact is, we could have gone on the floor and still been halfway into the crowd from the stage. I knew it would be excessively loud down there, so I’d planned on something in the center of the bottom floor about 4 rows back.

A little after 8:00 pm the trombone player from Sigur Ros horn section played a solo set of his own songs (not on trombone – guitar and organ…I’m sorry but I didn’t catch his name…one of those unpronounceable Icelandic monikers). He was quite good, but his set was too long. Then the intermission was much too long. The band finally took the stage at 9:00 o’clock.

They kicked off with a nice version of “Sven-G-Englar”, which I enjoyed even though it was the only one I didn’t care to hear (update: it’s a good song, it’s just been played out).

Next was “Vaka”. I suppose it will become repetitious here for me to say “it was great”, but it was.

I had hoped they would play “Glosoli”, but they didn’t. They did, however, do the other song I really wanted to hear – “Hoppipolla/Meo Blodnasir”. As expected, it was exuberant. It’s one of the few Sigur Ros songs Bryan knows well enough to call a favorite. He enjoyed it.

I don’t know the names of most of the new songs, so when they played one next I kind of lost track of the song order (update: In other words, I had hoped to remember each song in the list in order, but the new ones threw me off because I don’t know their names).

I WILL say this – ALL of the new ones were fantastic. I’m glad I familiarized myself with them, but I think I’d have enjoyed them even if I hadn’t. I doubt the band has performed these songs very many times. Maybe it was because they were fresh, but they were solid.

The other “standards” they did were “Olsen Olsen”, “Se Lest” and “Heysatan”. That last one was especially nice. A real funeral dirge. Jonsi screwed up a vocal entrance, but recovered nicely.

The biggest surprise of the night was the last song before the encore, the new single “Gobbledigook”. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how that one would translate into a live setting. It was SO good! They had the string quartet banging on bass drums and the horn section exhorting the crowd to clap along. Exhilarating (update: At the time I didn’t Amiina was the string section for this show, but the reviews I read said it was. I couldn’t tell from where I was sitting).

I’ll probably write more about the “non-musical” aspects of the evening , but right now everyone else is in bed and I still need to take a shower. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

6.15.2008

@ Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum


On the way home from Springfield yesterday we took a detour through Branson, Missouri, and went to the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. Here are some photos...

Bryan and me standing in front of a full-scale replica of the world's tallest man


Stacie, Bryan and me


This is me standing with a full-scale replica of the world's heaviest man


Me and the wife, with that tall guy again

Uptown photos

Here are a few photos from the Uptown Theater show I was at. I grabbed them from flickr and I don't know the name of the person who took them, but whoever it was did a good job and I hope they don't mind me showing them here.




home again

We got back from our vacation at about 8:30 last night. A tiring three days, but worth the tedious moments on the road because the Sigur Ros show was excellent. The venue was sold out, but Bryan and I got the seats we wanted.

The weather turned nasty in the area, but we had no idea just how bad it was until we left the theater. Stacie said that the hotel staff had made everyone go down to the basement, as a tornado had been spotted in the general area. Our motel was only 4 miles from the theater, so there's a good chance that it swung by our way without anyone in the building knowing (or even caring) about it.

I was not aware that an opening act was on the itinerary, but the band's trombone player, Helgi Hrafn Jónsson, played a 6 song set of his own material. He was actually pretty good, though he tended to sing falsetto a bit too much...it probably wouldn't have been noticeable if you didn't know just how much Jonsi sings in falsetto (and how much better he does it).

I've written a bit about the show in a "vacation journal" that I plan on posting here just as soon as I get it typed up. It is rather lengthy, so it may be a couple of days. As such, I'll probably extricate the stuff about the concert and post it separately for anyone who doesn't care to read the extensive "journal".

So, until then...


Photos of the Uptown Theater show that I attended can be found HERE. There's also a review, but I can't say that I'm in agreement with much of it.

Also a ton of KC photos on Flickr.

6.11.2008

Small Town News

This actually came from the Police Report in our local newspaper...

June 3, 8:40 PM. Officer J*** H****** was dispatched to 617 B**** on an assault. A suspect, D***** N***, 19, of 3530 Rd,, S*****, was taken into custody approximately thirty minutes after the incident as he was walking at 11th and J** T***** Blvd. The suspect allegedly demanded to be paid a $2 debt from a female at the residence who said she didn't have the money. The suspect became angry and waved a knife in her direction , making verbal threats to the woman as well as a bystander. The suspect ran onto the porch and kicked the screen door window in before running from the scene.

TWO DOLLARS !!!!!!!

I guess the bystander didn't have two bucks, either, or surely a loaner could have been arranged...

...and get this... ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER!

JUNE 3, 8:50 pm, Officer J*** H****** was dispatched to 617 B**** where the homeowner stated a female came to her front porch and demanded she pay a $2 debt. The homeowner said she didn't have the money and the female grabbed her and tried to pull her down. The homeowner told the suspect to leave. The officer located the suspect 45 minutes later running south on Main and K*******. B**** G*******, 25, was arrested as a suspect for assault and battery.

One can only wonder what would have happened had the loan been for $10.

SIGUR ROS
TOMORROW!!!!!!!

Music Video of the Week: Wesley Willis

Turn down the Sigur Ros jukebox at the top of this page before playing video
"Cut the Mullet" (Live 2002)
Wesley Willis

6.10.2008

Ah, the memories...

Squelch the Sigur Ros jukebox before playing video


From the RS.com Castaways message board:

I hold off listening to the new Sigur Ros until I got that disc in my hands! It is a headphone-experience for sure and I'm not sure the podcast will do it justice. - maarts

In response...

That was my policy as well, but I changed it at the last minute for two reasons:

1. I just couldn’t restrain myself. They’d already teased me with the “Gobbledegook” download and I was unable to resist hearing what the rest of the album might sound like following such a radical departure as that.

2. I figured they would play a few of these songs at the concert Thursday night and I wanted to be somewhat familiar with them. I don’t like hearing a song for the first time at a concert, so I figured I would burn the stream onto a CD and get comfortable with it.

I think you’re right insomuch that it will be a headphone experience. The mono stream leaves a bit to be desired, though the songs certainly stand up regardless. But I don’t think it will be the same kind of “headphone experience” as the other albums were. These songs, with an exception of one or maybe two, don’t have the same “atmospheric feel”. They are the slightest bit more “traditional” (for lack of a better word). After the release of “Heima” the band expressed a desire to explore a more acoustic oriented approach. They’ve done that here to a great degree. But it’s nothing like “Sigur Ros Unplugged”. The sounds they’re known for are sprinkled throughout. Even without Jonsi’s one-of-a-kind voice you’d still be able to tell who it was you’re listening to by the music alone

Speaking of Jonsi’s voice…it seems more prominent on this album than it has been in the past. Not that it hasn’t been mixed well upfront in the earlier records, it seems like it’s even more so here. Which is not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s just his enunciation. Though I don’t know for certain, it sounds like almost all of the lyrics are Icelandic. I don’t think there’s much of the vocalizing which has been given the hopelessly stupid name of “hopelandic” (have you seen that NPR interview? Jon really despises that term, preferring to call the made-up enunciations “bullshit”. Ha!). Plus, there’s the closing number, “All Alright”, which is sung entirely in English. I hope I’ll be able to understand the lyrics before too long . :)

Despite what I said yesterday, Now that I’ve heard the record in it’s entirety I don’t think it’s going to win too many new fans. But long-time devotees are going to love it.

Finally, even though I have been listening to this mono stream burn for the last couple of days, I am positive that it’s going to be a whole new ballgame when the headphones go on. Some of these songs are taking a little while to grow on me, and I’d bet that by the 24th I’ll be so enamored of the album that it will blow me away.

There is one thing I don’t like about the record.

THE TITLE!!!

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Huh??? How am I supposed to refer to it with a moniker like that?

...and lest we forget...

TWO DAYS UNTIL SIGUR ROS!

6.09.2008


They streamed the album today. It's excellent, and...

ONLY THREE MORE DAYS!!!!

Meet the Bambo Syndicate

The Bambo Syndicate was born in 1971, when bassist Harley Riggs was thrown out of one of the Tri City area's most popular acts, Blind Society. Hooking up with notorious drug dealer Jimbo "Blues Manchu" Elrod, they formed one of the most enduring and tenacious rock groups of all time.

Manchu (as he later became known as) initially joined the band in an effort to boost his flagging sales. "I thought there were a lot of drug addicts in the music business," he said. "Which turned out to be the case. The only problem was that all the musicians who hung around with us were broke. Always begging for a comp. I had to chase a few of them away. I never made any more money than I ever did before we formed the band, but it's no big deal. Once we got up and running I decided I enjoyed it."

"Jimbo was like a brother to me," Riggs told an interviewer from Playboy magazine in 1985. "Like an older brother who shared his dope with you. I'm not gonna lie. Many was the day we laid around the studio with needles in our arms but not a decent musical idea between the two of us. It's a wonder our first album ever saw the light of day."

This was no understatement, and the band almost went broke when the bill for studio time came due. "Yeah, it was one expensive crack house, that was for sure," commented Manchu. "But there was a huge shipment of blow that arrived at about the same time as we finished the record, so I was able to unload that for the price of the sessions."

The pair pitched the album to at least 15 different labels. "Dark Side of Andromeda's Seventh Moon" showed Riggs and Manchu to be exceptionally talented musicians and songwriters (at least when they were out of drugs). They played all of the instruments themselves. Many of the ambient "space-scapes" were also the creation of the two. "That was one of the fun things about the production of this album. A lot of those sounds are nothing more than farts run through a digital delay," explained Harley. "Some were unintentional, but we were inspired. We made it work."

Unfortunately, none of the record labels were even remotely interested in signing the Bambo Syndicate. One label rep from Geffen was heard to say "this piece of shit is the worst record I've ever heard!"

Unperturbed, they released it themselves on their own imprint, Galactic Pineapple Records and 8-Track Tapes. Through word-of-mouth and a mammoth campaign spearheaded by some of Manchu's better customers "DSOASM" slowly but surely began to sell. Within a year the album was considered a masterpiece by fans and critics alike, most of whom were taking payola from Manchu's ever expanding supply...you have to remember that such things were very common in those heady days of the early seventies. When faced with accusations of this practice, Manchu responded, "I don't give a damn HOW it happened. I only know one thing. I am a millionaire now. I consider it a small investment to have made for such a remarkable pay-off." Riggs seemed to agree. He bought a lear jet for his second cousin (who, by the way, was no pilot) and flight lessons for his mom. "Yeah, my advice to anyone who thinks the payola deal was unethical...all I can say is this...I bet your cousin doesn't have an airplane. I bet your mother doesn't know how to fly one. He continued, "This world would be a much better place if some people would just learn how to mind their own business."

Sales of "Dark Side of Andromeda's Seventh Moon" peaked in September of 1973. The record's success brought inspiration to it's creators and they went back into the studio in November. Harley recalls the experience: "We were on cloud nine. Manchu was well on his way to cloud ten so I figured it was time we recorded a new album before he lost control. We made a pact, when the first album began to sell, that the next time we would leave all the drugs at the house. Which we did. Instead, we had one of his cronies import it in to us. That way we didn't have to leave the studio at all. The only down side was that there are no bathing facilities in our studio. We spent 5 months recording 'Zero Gravity/Too Much Oxygen" and by the time it was all said and done we were two of the smelliest mother fuckers this side of Saudi Arabia."

That may well have been true, but the result was an album that was even more popular than their first, with an incredible cover by Salvador Dali. The story of the album's art work is legendary...as Blue Manchu explains: "Aww, man, it was SO trippy! I was hanging out at the public library and I found this book about modern art. I looked inside and it literally BLEW MY MIND!!! Some of that stuff I saw in there was just like visions and dreams I once had under the influence of some bad mushrooms! It tripped me out, and then I came to this one work...oh, my God! Flashback city! I checked the index and found that it was painted by this fella named Sal Dali. I ripped out the page and took it to Harley, sayin' 'Dude! We have GOT to use this for the new album!' My mind was set, there was no stopping me. Harl said, 'Don't you have to have some kind of consent form signed before you can use an artists work?' I told him I didn't know, but we could find out. We actually tracked down a phone number and an address. So, like, I call the guy, ya see? And he's got this funny French accent so I can barely understand a goddamn word he's saying. Riggsy later told me it was because he was actually speaking in French (sometimes I do feel like a dolt). I asked him what he thought of the idea. 'Mr. Dali,' I says...'I am extremely impressed with your painting entitled "Self Construction With Baked Beans - Premonition of Civil War". I've got a band, you may have heard of us...the Bambo Syndicate? Anyways, we've just finished our second album, "Zero Gravity/Too Much Oxygen" and...we were wondering...I mean, seriously, it's perfect, can we please use that mind-blower for the cover art?' All he said was, 'non'. Now I know enough French to understand what that means, so I turns to Harls and I says to him, 'Fuck that Guy! We're gonna use it anyway!' So we took the page I ripped from the library book to the printer and had 1000 copies made. Oh, it was beautiful. And I don't guess that Dali joker cared too much, cuz we never heard back from him."

The cover art was fabulous, but not nearly as incredible as the music inside. A side-long epic, "Wish You Were Gone", found them initiating a third member of the band, a relative newcomer to the Tri City music scene, named Tommy Henderson (or "Tom Dracula" as he preferred to be called). Dracula, like the others, was a multi-instrumentalist. He played many different parts on the record, but it was his zither work on the title track that ensured his place in the Bambo Syndicate. That, and his hopeless dependence on methamphetamine, which often found him on his knees begging for a fix from Manchu (a situation which the pusher man used to great advantage in the future).

As a trio the Bambo Syndicate embarked upon their first global tour. "I didn't know WHERE the hell I was going," said Riggs. "We only had two albums to promote, so we wound up doing extended covers of "Louie Louie" and "Wild Thing". It was a drag, but I'll never forget the night we wowed 'em with a 20 minute spaced-out version of "Free Bird" using our Micro-Moogs and ARPs instead of guitars for the solo at the end! Tasteeee!"

The highlight of the tour was a free concert given in Thailand. It was the first performance they had ever given which was made up of their two albums, in their entirety, and nothing else. When they were brought back for an encore they played "Dark Side of Andromeda's Seventh Moon" once again, making it the band's LONGEST concert as well. Press response was unanimous..."These guys are phenomenally popular in Thailand."

As if to cash in on the love they had received from the good people in Thailand, their next album was a double record set, "Two Stars In a Burning Colosseum (Live in Thailand)". It was received poorly by their fans, who already had both of their previous albums and felt ripped off. Indeed, the live versions did not meet the same standards as their studio counterparts. The BS were never a very good "live" act, even though they were respected in certain corners of Asia.

MORE TO COME