Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's a beard! It's not plain! It's ... super beards!

Facial-hair freaks from around the globe compete in the World Beard and Moustache Championships, a series of contests that's just about as bizarre as they come. The gallery of contestants and champions is not to be missed.

Comb through the official site and you'll discover that the hairy competition has taken root in New York City and England. There's even a Beard Team USA Blog and a forthcoming documentary (titled, drumroll please, Splitting Hairs).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What a bunch of bull ... dogs

I've never seen so many jaunty bulldogs. And who knew you could get 'em to dress up like state troopers and construction workers and such? Hannah took top dog honors Monday in the 27th annual Beautiful Bulldog contest in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Associated Press moved a story with an inspired intro (and a piker's typo) that you can read on Yahoo. But be sure to check out The Des Moines Register to see a glorious gallery of all 45 dogs who provided the stiff (and drooling) competition. I can almost hear those goofy hounds grunting!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Take my accordion -- please!

Is that what you're saying to yourself? After searching eBay and accordion stores across the country, I'm still looking for my dream accordion. Maybe you've got one lying around that you'd like to donate to a worthy cause!

The most important things I need from my dream squeeze are:

1) Lighter than 20 pounds – the lighter the better
2) In tune and tuned to A440
3) Tight bellows
4) Even keys and a fast keyboard
5) Switches that give me at least clarinet, bassoon, piccolo, master and combinations of high and middle reeds and low and middle reeds.


1) Pretty (bonus points for bright colors and retro rhinestone patterns)
2) Good straps
3) Handmade reeds
4) Pre-existing guitar jack and knobs. (I will be having my own miking system installed, so any electronics don't need to work.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's great to be back!

Did you miss us? Thank goodness we got that little misunderstanding with Network Solutions taken care of ...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

And TDA's MySpace friend No. 300 is ...

The After Effect, a "rock/alternative/jam band" straight outta Brooklyn. They are the lucky winners of an undefined tour of Cincinnati, home of my swirly college memories and of Jeff Staples, good friend of TDA. Not to mention the Ass Ponys, the greatest band nobody's ever heard of.

So, esteemed members of The After Effect, please say "hi" to my buddy, Newsday pop music columnist Glenn Gamboa, when you're kickin' it in your hometown, and say "this round's on us" to Chuck Cleaver when you get to Cincy-nasty. Cheers!

100 years ago, San Francisco quaked and baked

Frisco media outlets are abuzz with wall-to-wall coverage of the 1906 earthquake that basically destroyed the city. The San Francisco Chronicle website shakes loose a magnitude-8 multimedia splash entitled "The Great Quake: 1906-2006" that boasts amazing historic photos, "walking tour" podcasts and much more. No mention of how many accordions went up in flames.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Quick link will rock TDA iTunes completists

Globe Records honcho Tim forwards this link for anybody who wants to buy every single TDA song available from the iTunes Music Store in one fell swoop. Get those iPods a-quiverin' (link opens iTunes if you've got it, or probably asks you to download the application if you don't) ...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Check this cool wooden Cadillac

Not much to say about this Caddie made of mahogany other than "wow." The parts list is amazing -- and the car actually works!

(Via Coast to Coast AM)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Poor, poor widdle choco-rabbits

Bill's honey bunny Kristen passes along this visual "Easter funny." Snack time!

Behold the therapeutic purr of Rouki

Don't take this as a recommendation, but this French pro-feline website goes on and on about "the mysteries of the Purr" and how physically beneficial the sound of a contented cat can be. Shockingly, it also hawks CDs of a purring cat named Rouki.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

An accordion, a sledgehammer and some fun

Associated Press writer Rachel Zoll pens a pretty funny first-person account of what it's like to play in The Main Squeeze Orchestra, a colorful group of 15 women under the direction of New York City squeezebox wildman Walter Kuehr. From the size and variety of the troupe to the importance of hip flasks, it sounds a lot like the early days of TDA.

Zoll says the group was blessed with the opportunity to open for Gogol Bordello at New York club Irving Plaza. Sounds like a hoot.

DEA agent shoots himself in the other foot

It was bad enough when Lee Paige, a footballer-turned Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, accidentally shot himself in the foot during a videotaped gun-safety demo. Now, Paige is suing the government, saying the video of his gun goof has made him the target of ridicule.

Well, there's nothing like a lawsuit to shut people up -- next thing you know, even lowly accordion blogs will be poking fun at Paige for his oopsy-daisy moment. The Smoking Gun has a copy of the complaint, along with the increasingly popular video clip, in which a freshly wounded Paige entreats a room full of kids, "Never play with guns."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What the hail? Chunk of ice slams into Oakland

Geez, I knew the weather out here on the West Coast had been strange. But enormous chunks of ice falling from the sky and leaving a 3-foot hole in the sodden sod? Sounds life-threatening. I mean, everybody knows Oakland can be dangerous, but come on.

Apparently it wasn't just a big block of airplane toilet water, which has been known to fall from the sky on occasion. But now the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the investigation into the mysterious giant ice cube is, um, melting away.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Be an accordion thief

No, I'm not talking about hanging out backstage and putting the squeeze on a squeezebox. I'm talking about playing an unlikely character in the role-playing game, Kingdom of Loathing. Lord knows you could play a Disco Bandit, a Pastamancer, a Turtle Tamer or a Seal Clubber. But the Accordion Thief -- "scourge of mariachis and polka bands" -- is beyond doubt the coolest way to play.

Kingdom of Loathing is free, it's goofy, and it's approved by hysterically funny Wired News columnist Lore Sjöberg.

(Via Table of Malcontents)

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Polka Lovers Klub of America

Dang! This whole "who knew?" routine is getting kinda old. It's amazing how many things exist that you really ought to know about but have never heard of.

Thank heavens for the Internet (and for our new MySpace friend, Paco, who hipped us to the Polka Lovers Klub of America).

P.S. Be sure to check the wacky picture on the club's homepage.

He's the bowling ball drilling king

Who knew getting a bowling ball custom-fitted was such a science?

Alabama man Travis Johanssen, who runs McCorvey's Pro Shop inside Lightning Strikes Bowling Center, is among the country's (if not the world's) best bowling ball drillers, reports The Birmingham News.

"In my world, there's no such thing as close," Johannsen, 27, says. "An eighth of an inch off might as well be three miles."

If you want to know more than you'll ever need to about bowling balls, brace yourself for the 10-pin science and read the rest of the story. Then find out exactly how Johannsen gets the job done, in the sidebar story, "10 steps to a perfect bowling ball."

Beastie bunny devours veggies

From the Life Imitates Claymation Art Dept: A giant rabbit is wreaking havoc on vegetable gardens in the U.K. town of Felton, leading to panic and desperate measures as seen in Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

The locals think the destructive beast is "a cross between a rabbit and a hare and bigger than either," according to Northumberland Today.

"It is a massive thing. It is a monster," said allotment holder Jeff Smith. "The first time I saw it, I said, 'What the hell is that?'"

The angry gardeners have posted armed watchmen to protect their parsnips and leeks. (AFP has a picture of a rabbit breeder holding a monster rabbit to give you an idea what they're up against.)

Friday, April 7, 2006

Power to the polka people in Cleveland

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland's paper of record, gets down and dirty today with Cecilia Dolgan, president and COO of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid, Ohio.

The Q&A serves up some cool polka history (dance moves like the "Polish hop," Cleveland style vs. Chicago style, etc.), and reveals that Dolgan recorded a polka disco album in the '70s. (It didn't catch on.)

Unlike some polka purists, who get all bent about instrumentation and following the "rules," Dolgan seems to have a great attitude about "alternative polka" bands. She sums it up like this: "The more the merrier." That's our kinda polka pal.

Hope we have time to stop by the museum when we're in Cleveland to play Wilbert's Food & Music on Aug. 31.

P.S. You've gotta love a paper like The Plain Dealer that includes a polka Q&A alongside stories like "What's brewing in the world of beer" and "River poisoning intentional, meant to kill lamprey."

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

It's almost time for something special

For a moment Wednesday morning, the time will be numerically odd. Wired News points out that The New York Times columnist David Pogue points out that things will be highly weird for, oh, just about one second.

Who would you like to hear at Summerfest?

That's the question the festival is asking via its MySpace blog. If you have any ideas about a band that might make Summerfest a little more squeezeboxalicious, let 'em know.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Bad news for barbecuers

I don't like the sound of this at all: Charred meat is linked to prostate cancer, researchers say.

Independent Online's headline -- "Keep that braai meat rare, manne!" -- can't possibly apply to the first bratwurst of summer (which is sounding pretty good right now to us soggy Californians). And, BTW, that charring is the part that tastes so good in the first place. What's a carnivore to do ...

Are you a polkaholic?

An amusing QuickTime clip shows the warning signs (and features The Polkaholics). Shield your eyes during the inevitable accordion-abuse sequence.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Who knew Roland had an accordion room?

Roland's V Accordion -- a wild dream of its founder since 1967 -- finally saw the light of day in 2004. Now, the latest models (including one with built-in speakers so you can, you know, hear the accordion when you play) are making waves. They were on display at the Musikmesse music industry convention in Frankfurt, Germany, which just wrapped up yesterday, according to Jazz News.

I wish Roland would send us a few demo models to check out. Could there be a more appropriate band to spread the word?

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Coolest ... tombstone ... ever

Flickr find: The squeezebox tombstone of Roy Bertelli, a Springfield, Ill., man known as "Mr. Accordion." Supposedly he paid $30,000 for a mausoleum for himself. It features a 2,000-pound granite slab with an accordion engraved on it. The site says Bertelli died March 22 at age 92.

(Via Let's Polka)

Happy fool's day!

Some of you know I work for Wired News. Well, today we posted a pretty cool roundup of internet hoaxes you might find amusing.

Gallery: 10 Best Internet Spoofs: From endangered bunnies to bonsai kittens, the web's a great place to pull a prank. Don't get fooled again.

The gallery comments were written by Drew Curtis, the guy who runs (which, in case you don't know by now, is the funniest news site on the web). Of course, the biggest gag of all might be that the Tripod servers that host the Wired News galleries are melting down due to the high traffic from us this week. Haha!

When dodgeball turns ugly

Sounds like this youth minister should apply for work at the First Church of Cheap Shots.