Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ultimate Halloween Wheels?

Catch a look at John Farr's Skeleton Bike and imagine how cool it would be to ride that thing to a Halloween party tonight. Spooky!

(Via MetaFilter)

Them Hippies Was Right (About Science)

Are you ready for the science? This wacky YouTube clip shows a horde of well-directed, dancing hippies giving hairy life to the process of protein synthesis, all set to a jiggly soundtrack.

You gotta love the '70s. In retrospect. I guess. Maybe.

(Via Boing Boing)

There's Another Dumbass in a Costume

Stupidest costume idea: Osama bin Laden, complete with fake gun and hand grenades. Stupidest thing to do when the cops come to check you out: refusing to comply with officers' requests immediately. Talk about a Halloweenie ...

Latest Swimsuit Accessory: Snakes

Bill from Reedley forwards a Norwegian news story that gives me one more reason not to go swimming in lakes. Ick.

Now That's a Rubber Band Ball

Steve Milton might have a little too much time on his hands. The Oregon man put together the world's biggest ball made of rubber bands.

The biggest bummer: There's no way that monster will fit in his junk drawer -- it's 5 feet tall and weighs 3,300 pounds. He stores it in his garage (and sometimes uses it to smash things, as documented on his MySpace page). The Register-Guard has the full story (plus a picture).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Get Yer Hot Cuppa Accordion

I've harped about Seattle's "metronatural" problem. Would you consider Starbucks a plus or a minus for Seattle? (Personally, I prefer Peet's coffee.)

As you may know, the hard work never stops here at TDA Central, and plenty of Peet's gets pounded. We're tossing around shirt ideas, planning CD artwork and, oh yeah, writing songs.

Amidst this whole "creative process" -- that's what us "creative types" call goofing off -- our good buddy Sean Pete came up with this loopy logo. Hope we don't get sued. That can really put a crimp in your creativity.

Book a Trip to Bin Laden's Cave

That's right -- the terror kingpin's former mountain hideout is going to be transformed into a resort. "Tora Bora is 100 percent safe," says Afghan warlord-turned-governor Gul Agha Sherazi, who's pimping the idea in The Sun.

Don't forget your burka!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Vant to Flunk Your Test!

San Francisco State University prof Sara Hackenberg teaches the class, and the San Francisco Chronicle's best writer, Steve Rubenstein, captures the scene of the apparently horrific midterm exam.

There's sex and violence -- "Vampires," Hackenberg says, "are all about sex and food and the penetration of bodies" -- and, of course, the mandatory social spin: "Dracula is the uber aristocrat, a member of the ruling class feeding off peasants," Hackenberg says. "Marx said aristocrats are vampires, sucking the blood of everyone around them."

Happy Halloween season!

Festival Blog Name-Checks TDA

The good folks at Festival Preview, in a post by Chris Ellis titled "All About Summerfest," turn in an informative little roundup that includes TDA in a long list of musical luminaries that play Milwaukee's Big Gig. Steely Dan, Willie Nelson, Wilco, Hank Williams Jr., John Mellencamp, Los Lobos, Those Darn Accordions ... now that's good company. Hope we end up playing Summerfest in 2007.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Is the CD Really Dead?

That's what EMI bigwig Alain Levy says, adding that "value-added" material included with discs is the only way to keep physical media alive.

So, will you buy your next TDA recording on a CD? Or from iTunes or some other digital service? And what extras would entice you to plunk down cash for a CD? Conniving minds want to know ...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Killer Kegger, Dude!

Actually, this is no laughing matter: A Connecticut man was killed when some wiseguy threw a keg of beer into a bonfire. The explosion could be heard for miles, and several people were injured. That's one party trick to delete from your repertoire.

There's Another Dumbass on the Mountain, Alright

Just listen to Neal Mueller whine in The Washington Post about how his precious iPod didn't work on top of Mount Everest. I love Van Halen (original lineup, please), but 29,000 feet above sea level is no place to be listening to "Take Your Whiskey Home" unless you're chillin' in coach.

Monday, October 23, 2006

USA Today Asks: 'Can Accordions Be Cool?'

To which we reply: but of course.

It's kinda sad that Gannett's McPaper of Record went with the question-mark headline to top the upbeat Associated Press story about accordion fanatics in Wishek, N.D., the self-described "Sauerkraut Capital of the World" that's just "a few miles off the Lawrence Welk Highway." Looks like A.P. shipped the story with the much more squeezebox-friendly headline, "Accordions Are Cool in One ND Town." And everywhere else, natürlich!

(Thanks, Alethea!)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Seattle Goes 'Metronatural'

Who doesn't like Seattle? Who doesn't think of the pearl of the Pacific Northwest as a fine place to visit, what with the Bumbershoot festival, the Space Needle, the flying fish at Pike's Place, and all that natural beauty, like the Puget Sound (and let's not even get into the "Seattle sound")?

Well, apparently Seattle's basic beauty isn't enough for the city's tourist fishermen, who are well on their way to spending half a million dollars to verbally bait the hook. Their brainchild? The now-trademarked term, "Metronatural."

According to an Associated Press story, "'Metronatural' is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau, which included 60 people from the bureau, the mayor's office and businesses. The bureau plans to spend $300,000 marketing the slogan, er, 'destination brand position.'"

Now that's a lot of money. I'm sure Paul and I could have come up with another slogan to describe the lovely city for, oh, somewhere south of $10,000 and a couple sixpacks of Red Hook. And if we couldn't get the job done, Seattle could have turned to Austin American-Statesman writer Helen Anders, who serves up this alternative tag line: "Seattle: It's Portland on steroids."

P.S. We're not booked for Bumbershoot 2007 yet!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thank You 142 Throckmorton Theatre and Good Night!

What a great crowd last night at Mill Valley's "hub for public live arts." Possibly the best "beer, beer, beer!" audience shout-out in TDA history! (Bring it on, Milwaukee.) Thanks to everybody who came out to the show, and to Lucy and the whole Throck crew for taking such good care of us.

P.S. And look who's playing there tonight: The Fabulous Rhythm and Roll Dance Party. Go get 'em, Audie!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Last Bratwurst of Summer

OK, so maybe that's "last TDA show of summer." And maybe it's not really summer anymore, either, but it sure feels like it here in the sunny Bay Area. See you tonight at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley -- our last show of the year, unless something pops up in a happy and rewarding fashion. Next stop: the studio to record another TDA epic.

Squeezing Into the Mainstream

"Accordion Player Wins Latin MTV Award," the headline says -- you don't see that every day. Congrats to the "accordion-toting" Julieta Venegas, who bagged the best singer award.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Polkapalooza Bubbles Up at Atlantis

The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev., that is. And look who's playing: Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra, Polka Power of California and Big Lou's Polka Casserole. The Sacramento Bee has all the info (as well as getting Big Lou's band's name wrong). No info yet on the Atlantis site ...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cats Take to the Treadmills

Wired News funnyman Lore Sjöberg is now a cat herder: He rounded up a bunch of YouTube video clips that show man's other best friend burning off a few bowls of Kitten Chow.

The clips are wacky. Maybe Suzanne and I will have to get a treadmill for our nut job feline, Festus, who's recently taken to cursor hunting. He used to eat flies; now he makes it nearly impossible to mouse around on the PC. (Actually, he never stopped eating flies.)

P.S. If you haven't been exposed to Lore's weekly Alt Text column on Wired News, you should check it out. It's usually good for a belly laugh or three.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Village Voice Talks With 'Weird Al'

I always knew "Weird Al" Yankovic was cool, but I never thought the Village Voice would stoop to giving major play to an artist without a pierced navel, freaky tattoos and bizarre nocturnal habits. (Of course, maybe Al's got all that good stuff.) But Al's Straight Outta Lynwood CD/DVD busted out in the Billboard Top 10, so it's time he gets his due in the alternative press. Or something.

Best quote in the amusing Q&A: "It's hard to have street cred when you play the accordion."

P.S. Don't miss the accompanying "think piece" about Al, which dares to dub him a "genius." Right on.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pedal-Pumpin' Squeezebox Action

OK, so the headline ("Variety of Sounds Heard at International Accordion Festival") is lame. But the Houston Chronicle's article is intriguing as it paints a picture of the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, Texas.

The story says Polish squeezebox player Marian Pelka uses "pedal power to enhance his lilting sounds" and talks about him playing an "ornate instrument." Wonder what that could mean? Surely Pelka's not wailing away on a wah-wah pedal like, oh, some other accordion players I know.

Well, the article never gets around to the details. But it piqued my curiosity enough to track down a story in the San Antonio Express-News that gives a little more info:

"Accordion freaks and others interested in out-of-the-ordinary instruments are going to love Pelka's axe. From Wieniawa, in central Poland, Pelka plays his waltzes, obereks, polkas and mazureks on a pipe-mounted accordion operated by foot pedals that pulls the air into and out of the bellows."

Now if I can just find a picture ...

Ultimate Pumpkin Party Patch?

West Virginia man Ric Griffith is aiming for 3,000 orange orbs in his massive backyard pumpkin patch. How's that for an off-the-hook Halloween display?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Patty Spots a Dust Devil

TDA alumna (and novice storm chaser) Patty made the front page of The Maui News today after a photog snapped a picture of her stalking a dust devil on the Hawaiian island. Looks like one of those black clouds from Lost if you ask me ...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Ease and Beauty of eMusic

When did eMusic become so cool? While I wasn't looking, the site got all "social," letting users create Member Playlists of their favorite albums. It also added a feature called eMusic Dozens that gives lets rock critics like Chuck Eddy a chance to shout out their favorite artists.

For $10 a month, eMusic lets you download 40 unencombered MP3s from a huge variety of indie artists (quite a deal if you ask me). We've peddled Those Darn Accordions music on the site for ages. If you use eMusic and you're so inclined, please take a second to add some TDA tunes to a personal playlist to help us spread the love.

P.S. How did I finally get wise to the current state of eMusic's hipness? The esteemed Mr. Eddy gave my other band, the Electric Boogie Dawgz, some very good ink: "Primarily a funkier, funnier, and more kicking version of Jason and the Scorchers' earliest cowpunk, this San Fran trio also dance a rockasaurus boogie that verges into Brownsville Station and (in a song about chicken) ZZ Top territory. What they're best for, though, is jokes, like when they name-drop guitarists they respect (starting with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Angus Young) and one they don't (Eric Clapton) and keep taking the same sloppy non-solo after every shout-out. Then there's one where they keep counting to nine but have the blues 'cause they can't make it to ten. Plus a lot of liver damage."

A Call for Squeezebox Supremacy

A clear-headed reader wrote a letter to The Capital Times in Madison, Wis., calling for the squeezebox to be given its due in the Dairy State.

"Isn't it time for the fabulous piano accordion to be written into law as Wisconsin's official state musical instrument?" wrote Donald McDermott. "Music lovers everywhere unite! Please support this cause! Long live the accordion!"

Hear, hear, Mr. McDermott! And when you're ready for a new state song, we've got this little ditty about "The First Bratwurst of Summer" all revved up and ready to go ...

P.S. Some of TDA's founders helped get the piano accordion named the official instrument of San Francisco way back in 1990. Now it's Wisconsin's turn!

Monday, October 9, 2006

TDA x 7.5 = Whole Lotta Squeezeboxin'

Looks like the Turner Hall in Monroe, Wis., is about to play host to a 30-piece button accordion band from Switzerland.

What a great venue for such a squeezebox monstrosity! We had a great time playing there this summer -- a georgeous hall, an awesome dose of Swiss history ("Swisstory"?), great food and, last but not least, really fantastic people.

(And if you go to Monroe, be sure to stop by Baumgartner's Cheese Store and Tavern for a limburger sandwich, a cold one and a gawk at what is probably the weirdest wine-versus-beer mural ever. Then roll over to Roth Kase's Alp 'N Dell cheese store for a tour and the best horseradish and chive havarti you're ever likely to encounter. I'm still craving it!)

Friday, October 6, 2006

The Lawnball Returns

TDA frontman Paul Rogers is back in his warped world and grinning ear to ear. Thanks to the vigilance of the Northwest TDA fan base, the missing lawnball was located and returned to it's home on the front lawn of Rogers' property. In a heart rending ceremony the lawnball was presented to TDA at a performance last week in St. Helens, OR. The culprit (name witheld pending arraignment) was apprehended while standing in line for a beer. "I was gonna give it back as soon as I had another pint. Jeez, what's the big deal, I took good care of it, even polished it once or twice" muttered the scoundrel as he was led away by TDA security officer, Buck Rogers.
Rogers often cites the lawnball as a source of inspiration for TDA material, so it's return is timely. TDA is hunkering down to begin work on their new CD, due out in Spring 2007 and Rogers admits he's got some "starin' and cipherin' to do".

Rollin' Into Reno ...

Ready for big accordion fun in the "biggest little city in the world"? It's time once again for the Eldorado Great Italian Festival. Word on the street is that we play at 11 a.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. See you there!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Iggy Pop's Ridiculous Tour Rider

The Smoking Gun does it again: The site's posted the entire 18-page document that describes, in impressive detail and lunatic language, the Stooges' wacky tour requirements.

We've really got to work on our rider.

Highlights of Iggy's massive manual are too numerous to mention, really, though I'm partial to the section on stage monitors.

NYC Gets a New 'Accordion Building'

We don't talk about architecture much 'round these parts, but when The New York Sun calls the new Bronx Museum of the Arts a "Bronx bombshell" and says the building looks like a squeezebox, it's time to fire up the Google image search.

Here's an excerpt from the Sun's bold prediction:

It is a fair guess that, sooner or later, people will start referring to this new three-story structure as the Accordion Building. It unfurls along the Grand Concourse like the folds of that estimable instrument in a stunning mirage of shimmering aluminum. A little jagged and a little syncopated, the building suggests the lively, off-kilter rhythms associated with the Latino culture that now predominates in the borough.

And here's a picture. Get it?