Friday, March 31, 2006

Hellbound Barbecue Boozers Rock Out Against Temperance

I can't beat the headline, and I can't hardly believe The Village Voice gets the Electric Boogie Dawgz.

OK, well, I guess there's not that much to get, really. Have a beer, have a laugh, forget about the crazy crap that could bring you down if you were paying any attention.

Thanks, George Smith, and I'm glad you like Sloppy, Fast & Loud. Next time you're in town, I'm buyin' ...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Where edgy greeting cards go to die

When a great greeting card is too obnoxious or eccentric to be published by Hallmark's irreverent Shoebox division, it goes to the company's wall of fame (or maybe shame) in Kansas City, Mo.

Dan Taylor, a Shoebox "stylist" (the highest title bestowed on card writers, according to the Associated Press), describes the type of response at a "roundtable read-off" that could land one of his babies on the "no" wall.

"I think sometimes the air gets sucked out of the room by something I've written," Taylor says. "It's actually beyond silence."

The A.P. story gets into the nuts and bolts of the decision-making process -- some card ideas get labeled "FBN" for "Funny, But No," and rejects beat winners 10 to one -- and dishes up some of the more colorful cards that never made it into the real world.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Can Scrabble save the Sioux language?

An effort to keep the Dakota Sioux language from disappearing elevates Hasbro's crossword game Scrabble to the position of possible linquistic savior.

There's even an Official Dakotah Scrabble Dictionary, according to The Forum of Fargo, N.D.

While I wish the Sioux well in their bid to keep the language alive, I offer them a warning: Don't challenge Suzanne to a game of regular Scrabble. She's a shark.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lawrence Welk lives on

Did you know that The Lawrence Welk Show
draws the largest audience of any program on public television? I didn't.

But former squeezeboxer Doug Fischer writes in The Ottawa Citizen that the show plays on 280 TV stations and pulls in 5 million viewers a week.

What's more, Larry's show still tours!

"A dozen members of the TV show, including two from the 1955 cast, still take Welk's comforting recipe of singing, dancing, cornball humour, ruffled shirts and pastel dresses on the road several times a year," Fischer reports.

Singer Mary Lou Metzger says the ensemble outings are winning new fans in addition to the nostalgia buffs who grew up watching the show.

"People are always telling me how much fun they had when it was the last thing they expected," she said. "We get as many as four generations at a single show. The Welk musical family has always been about bringing other families together. I think that is still the appeal."

BTW, they rehearse in Dearborn, Mich., the birthplace of TDA's fearless leader, Paul Rogers.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What is polka? It's happiness

And that's the name of a movie being made by Timm Gable and director Craig DiBiase of Stun Productions. It's a documentary about polka.

"The overall theme is the power of the music, the happiness that it brings people, the feeling of euphoria," Gable told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Stun Productions site says It's Happiness is still being edited. But a trailer is online now.

Buck Owens goes to 'Hee Haw' in the sky

Buck Owens, one of country music's great singer/songwriters and the originator of the "Bakersfield sound," died in his sleep Saturday at his home. He was 76.

What a loss. I caught Buck at Bimbo's here in Frisco a few years back. Despite having lost part of his tongue to cancer, he still put on a heck of a show. I'd been threatening to make a trip down to the Crystal Palace to see him play. Guess that won't be happening.

But if you're ever in Bakersfield, stop by Buck's restaurant/showcase for a steak and a stroll through the free museum, which exhibits tons of memorabilia (including some very cool Nudie suits). And if you're there on a Monday night, stop in at Trout's in Oildale (right next to Bakersfield) and you can catch Buck's songwriting buddy Red Simpson singing his truck-driving songs.

Friday, March 24, 2006

T-shirt tells the brutal truth

I wear an XL -- for comfort!

Sign me up for UFO school

The out-of-this-world curriculum at Russia's UFO and Paranormal College covers such hot topics as how to spot flying saucers and what to do when you come face-to-face with an extraterrestrial.

Tatiana Markova, chairwoman of Togliatti's Ufology Commission (which runs the school), tells weird news site Ananova that the school is on the cutting edge of UFO knowledge.

"We have studied several of the most popular flying saucer routes and filmed the phenomena we saw," she said. "We have lots of video footage featuring the type of UFOs called Belgian triangles; they are frequent visitors to our city."

No word on what you do when you get your Ph.D. in UFO.

Now the Easter Bunny is a menace

Cue "Enter the Douse."

Scared of being offensive, city officials in St. Paul, Minn., dropped the hammer on a City Hall secretary's innocuous Easter display, which consisted of a cloth bunny, some colored eggs and a "Happy Easter" sign.

Tyrone Terrill, the city's human rights director, asked for the bunny's removal, even though nobody complained about the display (which the secretary apparently paid for herself).

"This has just gone too far," said council member Dave Thune. "We can't celebrate spring with bunnies and fake grass?"

Hippity-hoppity, hippity-hoppity, the P.C. Police are on the way.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good news, bad news

First the good: I'm not as old as I thought.

"I think 40 is not just the new 30, it's the new 20," People magazine senior editor Galina Espinoza says.

Now the bad: Phil Spector is the new Mushroom Man from Planet Freak. Yikes!

Bigfoot, Mothman and more in a plastic menagerie

Geez, there's a whole wacky world of bizarre figurines out there. Cryptomundo pulls together a roundup of cryptozoology critters now available in plastic form. Bigfoot, Mothman, Chupacabra, the Jersey Devil -- they're all there. But sadly, Nessie apparently didn't make it past the mockup stage.

(Via Coast to Coast AM)

Kurt Cobain lives on -- as a toy

Dressed in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" garb, the plastic Kurt Cobain doll is the kind of thing that would either have made the real Nirvana songwriter/guitarist giggle with delight or smash something while mumbling unintelligibly about the evils of corporate consumerism.

Aside from Kurt, toy company Neca peddles a wide range of pretty cool pop culture figurines. There's an aging Elvis (complete with walker), a zombie from Dawn of the Dead, Jimmy Page and AC/DC figures, Iron Maiden bobbleheads, characters from Sin City (in black-and-white and color editions, a nice tribute to the Robert Rodriguez film) and ohsomuchmore.

No word on whether the Kurt figure shoots up in his tiny plastic arm.

When squeezers rap

In Beantown, it's apparently a good thing when the ol' stomach Steinway gets teamed with that hip-hop vocal magic known as rapping. A concert including "not one but two performances by accordion-playing rappers" lands a top pick from The Boston Globe.

The performers in this unlikely musical melting pot of a show are Ghorar Deem Express (which boasts squeezebox plus a "meld of Bengali and Italian rapping") and Julz-A, who "plays accordion while unfolding rhymes over pre-recorded beats." I guess this bears a little investigation. Later. Like after morning coffee for sure.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

When dope dealers have too much spare time

... they come up with parody packaging for marijuana-laced candy and drinks. The wacky "brands" allegedly peddled by the California drug ring Beyond Bomb include Toka-Cola, Pot Tarts, Puff-A-Mint Pattie, Stoney Ranchers, Munchy Way and Buddahfinger, and The Smoking Gun has the goods.

Forget the drug charges -- just wait till the lawyers from Nestlé et al get hold of the overly creative pot peddlers.

Will next Illinois guv be a squeezeboxer?

The GOP is running a "cigarette-smoking, accordion-playing ex-newspaper reporter who called her primary opponents 'morons,'" according to

Judy Baar Topinka, the Republican rip-snorter in question, is currently the state treasurer. The Bloomberg article describes her as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, and sources call her a "flamboyant" candidate loaded with "self-deprecating humor."

"We're going to restore honesty to this government," including "making sure that we live within our means," said Topinka, who grew up in a Czech immigrant family in Berwyn (home of one of TDA's all-time favorite clubs, FitzGerald's. "That rooster done crowed, but this hen's going to deliver."

A politician who plays squeezebox and tells fart jokes? Sounds like our kinda lady. We already love Illinois (and the Windy City in particular) -- if Topinka gets elected, we might have to consider a cross-country move.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Things just got a little easier for the dumbasses

New software lets wired mountaineers keep in electronic contact with flatlanders around the world. Gee, e-mailing videos, pix and text from on high is what mountain climbing's all about, isn't it?

Monday, March 20, 2006

What beer am I? (The answer's strangely musical)

The "If You Were A Beer Test" over at goofy quiz site OK Cupid says I'm ...


(100% dark & bitter, 33% working class, 100% genuine)

So the deal with this test is that each taker, based on his or her scores, is assigned a beer that fits their personality (Corona, Bud Select, and so on), and along with the personality description, there's a poster or an ad for that beer. As you can imagine, most of the images feature booty models, sports cars, or, maybe even more depressing, retro kitsch.

It's a testament to Bass Ale, and therefore to YOU, that when I went to look for ads for Bass, all I found was this. An ad from 1937. Bass is legit, and if your scores are true, so are you. I tip my glass to that.

Personality-wise, you have refined tastes (after all, Bass is kind of expensive), but you know how to savor what you get. Your personality isn't exactly bubbly, but you're well-liked by your close circle of friends. Your sense of humor is rather dark, but that's just another way to say sophisticated, right? Cheers.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 88% on dark

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 11% on workingclass

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 66% on genuine
Link: The If You Were A Beer Test written by gwendolynbooks on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Download free MP3s of early accordion recordings

The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project makes available recordings pulled from about 6,000 cylinder recordings from the good old days. The collection -- which includes ragtime hits, presidential speeches and more -- is searchable, and you can download MP3s, stream the files or whatever.

Search the collection for "accordion" and you'll turn up some great stuff, like this 1908 recording of the "American Polka." Listen to him go!

Beyond squeezeboxes and polkas, you can listen to Teddy Roosevelt wax eloquent about the right of the people to rule or just generally lose yourself in a historic wash of sounds from yesteryear.

This is really a goldmine loaded with musical treasures.

Leader of the polka pack

Gary Sredzienski, lead squeezer of "extreme polka" band The Serfs and the DJ who puts together "The Polka Party" for the University of New Hampshire's WUNH radio station, sounds like a pretty cool character.

As described by Pitchfork Media, his house sounds like some kind of bizarre accordion-and-kitsch museum, and his habit of scuba diving in frigid New England rivers and creeks sounds just downright bizarre.

His rallying cry -- "Polka music is happy music!" -- is one for the ages. Keep on squeezin', Gary!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

UFOs zip over Orange County

Actually, they're not technically unidentified flying objects anymore: The cool-looking remote-control saucers causing jaws to drop in Southern California are actually flown by a couple of jokers who built them in their garage.

"We fly them in formation. It's pretty funny," said Gaylon Murphy, a cardiovascular surgeon and Aliso Viejo resident. "People stop, people scream; one cabdriver ran his car up off the road."

Ha ha, very funny thank you, and I hope nobody got hurt. The Los Angeles Times has the full story.

The legend of Accordion Hero unfolds

Gamasutra posts a wacky postmortem on the making of Accordion Hero, the world's coolest gaming goof. It's pretty hilarious, and it also delivers the answer to the burning question, "Who would rock harder: Ronnie James Dio or Yngwie Malmsteen?"

(Via Joystiq)

Is Turner Hall ready for TDA? Heck yeah!

Bowling, dancing, banquets, an honest-to-goodness Ratskeller ... Turner Hall sure sounds like a cool place. Can't wait to play there this summer -- get ready for a squeezebox invasion, Monroe, Wis.!

It's super-cool that Turner Hall bigwig Deb Krauss Smith name-checks TDA in her interview with The Monroe Times. See you July 7, Deb!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hendrix gets his psychedelic due

Gibson's custom shop is building a special Jimi Hendrix Psychedelic Flying V. Only 300 of the freaky-looking guitars will be produced.

Hello, Hohner? Petosa? Bugari?

Can a Paul Rogers model custom accordion be far behind?

Drinking songs to get your Irish up

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Need a little seasonal musical lift? Check out these Irish drinking songs for a touch of green.

(Via Listening Post)

World's biggest burger sounds like paradise

Pennsylvania's perennially peckish people need no longer fear starvation: A 15-pound burger is within driving range, served up by the madmen at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield. Eat one of the $40 behemoths in five hours or less and you get a prize package that includes a T-shirt, a slot on the pub's wall of fame and some long green ($350). And, of course, the restaurant picks up the tab for the burger.

But I'm guessing you'd need a couple of friends, and maybe a tapeworm, to wolf down one of these meaty monsters.

"Every restaurant needs a gimmick -- ours is big burgers," said Dennis Liegey III, son of the restaurant's owner, and its vice president.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the full story; freaky news site Ananova dishes out a close-up picture of the world's biggest burger.

I like mine with lettuce and tomatoes, Heinz 57 and french-fried potatoes ...

At Home with Lawrence Welk

The next time I'm in North Dakota I plan to stop by and check out Lawrence's birthplace. Don't you think TDA's "The Story of Lawrence Welk" should be pumping out of that boombox in the window? I better send those good folks a copy.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Time to go celebrity hunting

Forget those pesky paparazzi-- now celebs have an even bigger problem maintaining some sense of personal space. Gawker Stalker uses Google Maps to home in on stars spotted on the streets of the Big Apple in real time.

Get an earful of SXSW, virtually

South By Southwest is roaring into Austin, Texas, again. If you can't be there in person, you might want to avail yourself of hundreds of free MP3s of bands playing the massive music fest.

Get yourself a BitTorrent player and download the SXSW Torrent files. Then hole up in your room and check out close to 1,000 free tunes by band's you've probably never heard of. Talk about a musical free-for-all!

(Via Listening Post)

Watch TV classics for free

In2TV, AOL's new streaming media outlet, serves up classic television shows like F Troop, Babylon 5, Wonder Woman and Welcome Back, Kotter.

Who knows how long you'll be able to watch these prime-time retreads gratis, but if the free ride lasts till summer, I could see this coming in handy during those late-night, post-gig, lousy-TV-reception motel hangs. (Assuming, of course, that the motel has broadband internet access. Yeah, right.)

Our Favorite Place in Milwaukee

Hey, anybody out there want to own a piece of history? When we're in Milwaukee we always make a point to make a late night visit to Art's Concertina Bar. Art's putting the place up for sale and believe us, if we weren't located on the west coast, we might just have to buy it. Art's a great guy and it would be a shame to see the Concertina Bar fade away. So if you are in Milwaukee, get on over to Art's, have a couple cold ones and make an offer! Tell Art we sent ya.

Got a question, gabacho? Ask a Mexican

Gustavo Arellano spices up Orange County Weekly with his no-holds-barred column, Ask a Mexican. Arellano answers obnoxious readers' letters, tackles (and sometimes reinforces) stereotypes and drops a little south-of-the-border science on an unsuspecting gringo public, all while ladling out a wicked combination plate of straight talk, belly laughs and sacred cow asada.

From the super-tight writing to the over-the-top logo, this journalistic super burrito is muy picante. Lewis says check it out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ireland sweeps goofy laws from the books

Just in time for St. Paddy's Day, Ireland is engaging in a bit of legal housekeeping that will do away with such legal gems as the Tippling Act of 1735 and the "ordeal of water" (which involves being tied to a millstone and chucked into a lake).

Yes, soon it will be legal to burn witches or add sheep crap to your coffee in the Emerald Isle, as the Irish government eliminates more than 2,300 ridiculous laws dating back to 1100 A.D.

Be sure to raise a green beer to Ireland's legal downsizing this Friday night.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Accordions are everywhere!

And the people that wield them are working some pretty strange magic these days. In Nebraska, Shandra Korbelik plays button accordion in the Exeter-Milligan Timberwolves' pep band.

In Northern California, John Imrie plays accordion in Humboldt State University's bizarre band, the Marching Lumberjacks. "To tell people that I played accordion in a marching band, it doesn't get much cooler than that," Imrie told the Times-Standard about squeezing in the school's highly unorthodox ensemble (it calls its conductor an Ax Major).

Meanwhile, there's always squeezebox rock.

Flogging Molly's accordion player Matt Hensley says his friends thought he was crazy when he picked up the old stomach Steinway and got ready to rock. A common response to his choice of instrument: "You lost your f-ing mind, dude," he told Kansas City's The Pitch.

Hensley, who relates a frightening-yet-funny story about almost getting snuffed for playing the squeezebox, says rocking out on a guitar is easier (and probably less dangerous) than using a squeezebox. "On an accordion, if it's played wrong, you can immediately hear it, and it's enough to make people want to kill you," he said.

Plumbing miracle turns water into beer

It sounds like every brew lover's dream: A plumbing mix-up left Norwegian woman Haldis Gundersen with draft beer flowing from her apartment's faucets.

"I thought I was in heaven," she told Norwegian news site Verdens Gang. The reason for the"ale-ment" -- a bartender at Big Tower Bar below Gundersen's pad screwed up some plumbing, giving Gundersen her happy taps and leaving water flowing from the bar's beer taps.

Gundersen should have known she wasn't in heaven, though. Everybody knows that in heaven there is no beer!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Now all he needs is a giant pot of boiling water

But then I guess eating a giant endangered lobster probably isn't the coolest thing a seafood fan can do.

Lobster researcher Todd Walsh found the freshwater critter, which he estimates is about 35 years old, in Tasmania. The lobster is about a yard long -- that's one big crawfish.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Vancouver hosts Squeezefest

The big accordion party starts today at Rime in Vancouver, British Columbia. Performers include Guy Klucevsek, Amy Denio, David P. Smith and Ana Bon-Bon. If you're anywhere near Squeezefest, it's time to get thee behind the belows!

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Malaysia's Bigfoot can breathe easy

At least for now. Despite reports of strange howling sounds and enormous footprints, nobody's filed an official application to hunt down a Bigfoot in Malaysia's forest reserve. Overly optimistic officials had printed up 500 permits, according to The Star Online.

The news site also reports that scientists are testing for DNA from the huge footprints, hoping to figure out what produced them. Check the site for pictures of the plaster molds.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Is Nessie a circus elephant?

A Scottish scientist says maybe so. The BBC News story comes with an interesting diagram that helps explain the theory.

Earth to grandma: What the hell is that?

A gadget geek from Gizmondo turns the spotlight on the Orla PK 400 Piano Accordion Keyboard. Can somebody please tell me what it is?

Looks like some kind of keyboard designed for accordionists who don't want to play an actual squeezebox -- the weird specs make it sound pretty technically advanced, too. But isn't half the fun of watching an accordion player seeing all that chrome and mother of pearl?

Saturday, March 4, 2006

I Swear It Wasn't Me

When I first saw this item I thought the mystery driver might be Nic Cage. I know he loves his Ferraris. Glad to see it was somebody else, but who?

Friday, March 3, 2006

Travels with the Accordion Tribe

Check out what happens when 5 great players get together and take it on the road. Who'd a thought a bunch of accordions could sound so good? Imagine that!