Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New TDA Pix From Oshkosh Waterfest

Just in time for the next Midwest tour: Here's what we looked like on the last one! Thanks to Bill from Milwaukee for sending the photos.

Bowling Ball-Size Hairball

All you need is the picture. Is it just a coincidence that we're headed for Michigan?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Brace for Impact, Johnstown!

The Tribune-Democrat's preview piece on the Johnstown FolkFest includes this colorful quote about TDA from Shelley Johansson, marketing manager of the festival's producer:

"To say they're high energy is an understatement. In 2003, they put a hole in a stage from jumping."

Maybe she hasn't heard "Old Slow Guy." But we'll put on our stompin' boots and give it our best shot.

The festival has a great lineup, as per usual. Should be a rockin' good time. See you next weekend, Johnstown!

Flickr Pix From Cotati Accordion Festival

Put on your snorkel and dive into this bunch of new photos from the Cotati Accordion Festival posted over at Flickr. I see a TDA shirt, but no shots of us performing.

I do see The Great Morgani (awesome outfits, dude), Culann's Hounds (rockin' set, guys and gals) and something unspeakable that I missed. And, of course, plenty of squeezebox action.

The fest was a great time, as per usual. Thanks to Richard and all the organizers and stagehands. See you next year!

Is Ethanol the Perfect Party Fuel?

Forget about getting America off the Arab oil teat: Ethanol might be the key ingredient in the perfect martini. Engineer and liquor visionary Hans van Leeuwen says food-grade ethanol "tastes just like vodka" and could turn corn into a cheap-but-effective source for booze.

Sounds like we might be heading back to the good ol' days of "corn squeezins" cooked up in grandpappy's still.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Crop Circles Sprout in Soybean Field

Yet another reason to love the Midwest: Five crop circles showed up this month in Jim Stahl's soybean field in Geneseo, Ill.

Nobody knows what caused the weird formations -- theories include UFOs, pranksters, or maybe even deer (according to one old-timer).

But the field art is definitely causing a commotion, accordiong to Quad-Cities Online. We'll keep our eyes peeled during our upcoming Midwest tour.

How to Trap a Bigfoot

Step No. 1 would apparently be "keep your bigfoot trap in proper working order." Which the folks up at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest haven't done -- the world's only known bigfoot trap has fallen into disrepair, according to the Mail Tribune.

(Via Coast to Coast AM)

See You in Cotati!

Today's the day: The 2006 version of the Cotati Accordion Festival kicks off in, oh, a couple of hours.

The Mad Maggies play at 1:10 p.m., bellows-shaking superstar Dick Contino pumps it up at 3:45 p.m., and TDA storms the stage at 4:45 p.m.

There's lots more accordion action planned -- check the full schedule and plan your day accordionly.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Doctor Warns on Everest Deaths

Dr. Andrew Sutherland calls for "a better understanding of altitude sickness" to help keep climbers from meeting their makers on Mount Everest, Reuters reports. Perhaps he'd be better off advocating for IQ tests administered to the buttocks area.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Milwaukee: 'America's Drunkest City'

So I'm guessing the beers are high in a citywide toast as Brew City salutes its No. 1 status, as ranked by Cheers, Milwaukee!

(Thanks for the tip, Patty.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rock Squeezer's Lawnball Goes Missing

Paul Rogers, lead singer for Those Darn Accordions, stares at the empty pedestal which held his beloved lawnball. His son Jonny points to where the famous orb had been residing since being used in the cover shot for TDA's "Lawnball" CD, released in 2004. A visibly shaken Rogers was consoled by concerned fans after an Aug 19 show in Seaside, OR where the ball disappeared after being used as a prop on stage. "It's really a Victorian Gazing ball", explained Rogers. I changed the name to make it sing better. It's made of fine ornamental glass from Zhangjiang Xiang, a provence in Northern China. It's extremely delicate and needs to be handled with great care" Rogers continued. " It also has to be polished daily, or it will develop cloudy blemishes on its hand crafted reflective surface. "Man, I miss that thing. It's way more than a stage prop, it's where I go to center myself between shows," said Rogers. " I've got a bass pond in the back, but it just doesn't reflect the same. I just hope whoever took it knows what they're doing when it comes to lawnballs. If he busts that sucker, I WILL dedicate my life to finding the bastard." When asked if he had any leads on getting the gadabouting globe back, Rogers replied, "Oh, I've got an idea who took it. I've got my people all over it, and you can take that to the bank."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Frisco Mayor Gavin Newsom plays accordion?

That's what playwright Tim Bauer reports in his blog, Direct Address. Who knew?

Get ready, Albany -- here we come!

Big thanks go out to Cathy Ingalls at The Entertainer for giving a boost to our upcoming show at Monteith Riverpark in Albany, Ore. I'm only slightly worried about the "air-propelled rockets and wheely-bugs" -- all in all, it sounds like a great family-friendly event.

Obit: Accordion evangelist Anthony Galla-Rini, 102

The Los Angeles Times pays tribute to the recently departed Anthony Galla-Rini, a pioneering accordion player whose motto was, "Have trunk, will travel." Guess what was in the trunk.

Magnets lift freaky floating bed

A gravity-defying sleep platform created by a Dutch architect looks cool as can be, but it costs $1.54 million and isn't even comfortable, Reuters reports. Don't miss the picture that goes with the story.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

How to be a bad book reviewer

I know the Internet is a great opportunity to let everybody publish whatever they want with no editorial hang-ups or anything. But this sad review of the book How to Be an Accordion Player is an excellent example of why editors are a good thing. Not that I'm biased.

Bay Guardian pimps Cotati Accordion Festival

Sort of. L.E. Leone, author of this loopy article in San Francisco's aging alternative rag, implores readers to go the Cotati shindig.

We'll be there, L.E.! We'll miss ya!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

How many accordion fests are there?

The Ladysmith Chronicle tells me that "playing the accordion is no longer nerdy" as it introduces me to the Chemainus Accordion Fest in Chemainus, British Columbia.

Well then. Sign me up.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Squeezed the past year Rocky Mountain Way

Something tells me Those Darn Accordions needs to play the Rocky Mountain Accordion Celebration in Philipsburg, Mont. Maybe it's the festival-starting call to arms: "Get on your accordions," shouted by Dale Pahrman, according to The Missoulian. Maybe it's the pubs with chalkboard signs that read "Accordions Welcome."

Performers at this year's event -- the 10th annual -- included the Smilin' Scandinavians, the KingBees of the Bayou and The Awesome Polka Babes (a mysterious Montana-based group that doesn't seem to have a website).

Maybe next year.

P.S. Quote of the day, by the KingBee's Mark Sherman: "The accordion was thought to have been the devil's instrument."

$208 million buys a lotta cheese

About 100 Wisconsin cheese factory workers who pooled money to buy Powerball tickets apparently won the $208.6 million jackpot.

The winning ticket was purchased at Ma and Pa's Grocery Express along Fond du Lac's so-called "Miracle Mile," where several multimillion-dollar lottery winners bought their tickets in the 1990s, The Sheboygan Press reports. I know what I'm getting next time TDA rolls through that part of the Dairy State.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Now that's a belly full o' bratwurst

Takeru Kobayashi downed 58 brats in 10 minutes Saturday to take top prize at the Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship in Sheboygan, Wis.

The Sheboygan Press reports that Kobayashi, who hails from Nagano, Japan, had never seen or even heard of a bratwurst before signing up for the Brat Days competition. But he took a liking to the savory sausages and plans to come back next year and gun for the 60-bratwurst mark, he said through a translator.

Let's see ... "First five dozen bratwurst of summer" ... Naw, it just doesn't have that melodious lilt that makes for a powerful polka.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Watermelons are so square, man

At least these are. Freaky.

(Via Coast to Coast AM)

This bear walks into a casino ...

No, really. A bear walked into the classy new MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa in Lake Tahoe, Nev. And KXTV has the surveillance video to prove it.

The most beautiful part is that the casino has been running TV ads saying it's a "habitat for everything wild" and showing a waitress tossing fish to a hungry bear.

"Evidently the bears out there heard the story that bears can be fed at the nightclub at MontBleu," said employee Earl Zeller. "I guess we reached our target audience."

World's wildest marching band?

It's one thing when Led Zeppelin trashes a hotel room. It's another when a college marching band lays waste to its temporary on-campus digs.

But that's apparently the kind of crazy outfit that the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band is. Authorities say between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of damage was done to the "Band Shak," a trailer that served as the group's office.

The facts of who destroyed the place -- and why, and whether the trailer was even habitable when the band took over -- remain to be seen, despite the San Francisco Chronicle's damning story. But, man, I wanna party with those guys. Kinda.

P.S. Where did the Chron dig up this johnny-no-fun Stanford alum?

"They've always had a reputation for a being a bunch of alcoholics -- they all get drunk and start breaking things," said Russ Berman, who graduated in 1997 and lives in Mountain View. "I'm all for partying, having fun, but there comes a point where you go a little too far. People should pay for their actions."

Friday, August 4, 2006

Go fly a (giant cursor) kite

And the award for coolest geek kite goes to ... Windfire Designs for its pointy cursor in the sky!

Going cookie crazy from the heat

When life hands Sandi Fontaine lemons, she makes lemonade. Or, more specifically, when a heat wave hits, she makes chocolate chip cookies on her SUV's blazing-hot dashboard.

Fontaine turned her Toyota Rav4 into a rolling oven when the mercury surpassed 90, cranking the temperature inside her car to a blistering 200 degrees, according to the Union Leader.

Those familiar with the famous "new car smell" will appreciate a side effect of Fontaine's culinary exploits.

"When you open the door to that car," she says, "it's like, 'Oh my God.' It's a wonderful smell."