Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Burger Tips Scales at 123 Pounds

Those glutton-baiting goofballs at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearsfield, Penn., are at it again. The restaurant's new Beer Barrel Main Event Charity Burger weighs 123 pounds, packing 80 pounds of beef, a couple pounds of banana peppers, 160 slices of cheese, five onions, 12 tomatoes, 33 pickles and a pound each of lettuce, ketchup, relish, mustard and mayonnaise between the bulging twin faces of a 30-pound bun. The price? $379.

This beats Denny's previous effort by a country mile. Get the full story on the newborn monster burger (along with a juicy photo) at pennlive.com.

It's Obviously Time for a Career Change

This whole blogging thing ain't working out, so it's time to put on my pink jumpsuit and my boogie shoes. When you've got it, flaunt it!

(You'll pay for this, Rogers.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

More Black Donnellys Madness

NPR sneaks a snippet of The Mad Maggies tune "Sleepy Maggie" into its audio report on tonight's NBC pilot. It's must-hear TV!

Forest Whitaker Learns to Squeeze

He also gained 50 pounds, studied Swahili and used makeup to darken his skin, all part of his prep for playing Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, according to Contactmusic.com. Wonder which undertaking proved most difficult and/or irritating?

Sinkhole Swallows Homes

I know Mondays suck, but things could be worse.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mad Maggies Reels In New TV Soundtrack

Maggie Martin, squeezin' diva and leader of The Mad Maggies, sends this exciting note:
"Our tune 'Sleepy Maggie' has made the final cut of the pilot for a new dramatic series on NBC called The Black Donnellys. The pilot airs Monday, Feb. 26, at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central) in the United States. We get close to three minutes of airtime! About seven minutes into the show there’s a bar scene that turns into a brawl -- 'Sleepy Maggie' plays over the slow-motion portion of the fighting and continues throughout the scene.

"The show was created by Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Casino Royale) and written by Robert Moresco (Million Dollar Baby, Crash). Haggis directs. It's well-written, has great acting and an excellent soundtrack. ;-) We’re very excited to be part of it."

You can listen to "Sleepy Maggie," which Maggie calls "a Mad Maggiefied version of a traditional reel," on the MMs' MySpace page. Be sure to tune in Monday night (or watch the pilot online over at Fanpop).

Interview With Accordion-Rapper Julz A

San Diego's favorite squeezin' son of a gun gets a little ink in The Herald-Dispatch out of Huntington, W.V. Funny description of his music: "They-Might-Be-Giants-meets-Beck-at-a-polka-juiced street party." The article (with pix) promotes the national Scandal and Squeeze Rock Tour, which Julz A is co-headlining.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

World's Longest Moustache?

Ram Singh Chauhan started growing his moustache in 1982. His philosophy: "Whatever endeavour we take in life, we have to work very hard for it, we have to struggle and toil hard for it. The moustache has to be tended and nurtured just like a baby."

You've gotta see the picture at The Sun. (Plus you'll get tips on moustache maintenance.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Turn Your Cash Into an Accordion

Want to make a real impression next time you leave a tip? Give origami a go, and fold your cash into something memorable -- like an accordion. This quick post on the creatively named Personal Finance Advice blog gives instructions (including some nifty video clips) for turning a dollar bill into a shirt, a spider, a rosette or a bow tie.

When it gets to the No. 1 item -- the squeezebox -- it falls a little short, however, offering up the cool YouTube video you see below, but no instructions for creating the tiny wheezing amusement (other than buying Origami to Astonish and Amuse, which apparently has the complete instructions).

Now if we could just figure out a way to turn accordions into cash ...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nice Review of The Legend of Merv Conn

... posted by Erstwhile Happenstance right here on the Wall of Wheeze. It's serialized!

Sounds like a good flick. Hope it comes to San Francisco.

P.S. Thanks for the fact-check, radiogal1. I guess this is more accurately described as Merv's 15 minutes of celluloid fame. He's obviously well-known in D.C., and certainly a White House performance is nothing to sneeze at. Of course, for all I know he's a movie star as well. (And thus the limits of this blogger's investigation are sadly displayed.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Braniac's Breakfast-Themed Tattoo

Atop a formerly bald pate sits a tattooed depiction of "bacon, eggs, sausages, beans and even cutlery." Not as cool as Clyde's foo dog ...

Accordion a Downer?

I love the way writers describe the accordion and the music it produces. Usually it goes something like this: "Accordions are only good for polkas your grandpa likes." But this squeezebox-centric essay -- a review of Richard Galliano's Luz Negra by All About Jazz scribe Chris May -- starts out different:
"A little accordion can go a long way. The instrument's blowsy, wheezing sound, perfectly fashioned to express sadness and tears, can quickly become a downer, and it takes a player with unusual gifts to transcend all that."

Yeah. Unusual gifts like a distortion pedal and a wah-wah.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

When a Fat Man Rants

The Minnesota podcast Fat Man Ranting makes liberal use (and I do mean liberal) of "I Think About Stuff," which seems like a brilliant choice for background music.

It's a political opinion podcast, but I gotta say -- the ranting needs to be cranked up a notch. The podcaster sounds positively reserved compared to some of Paul Rogers' rants. We'll have to invite the podcaster aboard the Great White Buffalo for a dose of Paul's manic "discussion" next time we're in the Twin Cities. (I'd identify the podcaster if I could locate his name on the labyrinthine site. But, hey, last night was a late one -- maybe it's there and I just can't find it.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Do the North Beach Boogie

My other band the Electric Boogie Dawgz plays the Grant & Green Saloon in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood tonight. No accordions, but no cover charge either, so I guess it's a wash.

The funny thing is, the club's website describes the band as "classic Southern rock & roll." I guess we'll take it, even though we're all Yankees (all hillbilly evidence to the contrary).

The Legend of Merv Conn Grows

Described by The Washington Post as "a Washington fixture for 70 years," accordion player Merv Conn is about to get his 15 minutes of fame. Conn, 86, is the subject of The Legend of Merv Conn, a new documentary by filmmaker Jeff Krulik.

Conn's 87th birthday is this Sunday, and Krulik -- most famous for cult documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot -- will be screening the new film (and arranging a 21-accordion salute to the birthday boy). Get all the details.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

TMBG: Accordion Equals 'Party TIme'

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch interviews geek rocker John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, and the conversation quickly turns to accordions.

Here's the relevant part:
Q: Why is the accordion a big part of your sound?

A: We really got into using the accordion for its flexibility. When we started as a duo, for a little while we were going to gigs on the subway, so we wanted as much flexibility as we could have without snapping our spines.

The accordion is just a good portable keyboard. We didn't know it would become such an obvious indicator of the spirit of the band. I think people hear accordion, and they think, "It must be party time."

The rest of the interview is cool, too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Skating Robot Elephants!

This post-World War II invention has to be seen in action to be believed. Maybe Paul saw one in person as a youngster -- apparently one of the three elephant automatons created by Frank Stuart saw duty at Hudson's department store in Detroit.

(Via Table of Malcontents)

Miles Davis Sought an Accordionist?

That's the claim in First Coast News' review of jazz accordionist Joe "Sonny" Barbato's new record, Crackerjack. It's worth checking the review (which starts with the by-now-threadbare "you don't think of accordions as ..." opener) to see the Clownhead-style album artwork.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February Is Strong Beer Month in Frisco

Here's a reason to visit San Francisco in the rainy season: Strong Beer Month, a celebration of -- you guessed it -- strong beer. It's all brewed up by Magnolia Pub and Brewery in the Haight and the 21st Amendment brewpub in SOMA.

The names of the beers are enticing:

At Magnolia Pub and Brewery:

* Tweezer Tripel
* Old Thunderpussy Barleywine
* Smokestack Lightning Imperial Stout
* Promised Land Imperial IPA
* Weekapaug Monster
* Old Perplexity

At 21st Amendment:

* Golden Doom
* Double Tripel
* Blind Lust
* Diesel Imperial Smoked Porter
* Double Trouble IPA
* Lower de Boom Barleywine

Drink one of each concoction in the "Dirty Dozen" and you get a free commemorative glass. It's not Summerfest, but the whole things smacks of Wisconsin-style fun -- frankly, I can't believe I'm just hearing about it now, when the short month is almost half over.

Excuse me, I've got some glassware to earn!

P.S. Is it a coincidence that the Toronado Pub holds its Barley Wine Festival this month? I think not.

Main Squeeze for Valentine’s Day

Former TDA member and current Bella Ciao/The Squeegees/Roma '59/The Big Squeeze/The Gondoliers (whew!) accordionist Tom Torriglia is slotted to perform at 6:50 a.m. PST Wednesday on Frisco radio station KFOG 104.5 FM. (You can also listen online if you're up at that hour.) I'm guessing you'll hear songs of amore ...

(Via Let's Polka)

Boater's Worst Nightmare

If you see one of these, it's time to turn your bass boat around. Pronto.

LynnMarie Ditching the Polka?

This press release makes it sound like accordion queen LynnMarie -- shunned yet again for the polka Grammy -- is ready to move beyond the genre.

"Polka got me to the party, but now I want to get out there and start making music with and for people who think and create beyond the safety net of pigeonholing," she says. "Creatively, this experience is going to be the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m excited to be moving on to bigger and better things in my career. I’ve been a bridesmaid four times now but it’s great to be single again and have the freedom to explore new opportunities."

Her Grammy-nominated record, Party Dress by LynnMarie & The Boxhounds, fell to Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra's Polka in Paradise. That would be Sturr's 15th Grammy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Columnist Calls for Accordion Ban

A strangely unnamed columnist (at least on the website for The Times Argus) takes an un-ex-squeezable stance in a piece attacking nanny-state legislation proposed by Vermont lawmakers.

While I can certainly agree with the writer's main point -- that a super-restrictive bill that would ban drivers from all manner of activities, including playing musical instruments, is just plain ridiculous -- one segment of the column is beyond the pale.

"Some instruments, such as the accordion, should be banned, period. You shouldn't be allowed to play an accordion anywhere, and the penalty for doing such should be harsh. At the risk of regressing here a bit, have you ever noticed that there are certain things, such as an accordion, that for some inexplicable reason bring out an angry response in people?"
Can you believe it? I thought the days of knee-jerk accordion bashing had gone the way of the wind. But I guess the ol' squeezebox is still the joke instrument of choice, at least for some folks.

Man would I love to watch the comment section of the unknown writer's column fill up with "pro-accordion and I vote" sentiments (with lots of links to the TDA site, of course).

Friday, February 9, 2007

Vice Gives Props to Bagpipers

A blind bagpiper gets some love from the wickedest humor mag in the world. Wonder what they'd do with a blind accordion player?

P.S. Some of the language is a bit salty, but if you don't get at least one decent chuckle out of the cringe-worthy fashion disasters (and, of course, the beautiful people) chronicled in Vice magazine's Dos and Dont's feature, well, I guess I'm sorry you followed the link above and pressed Next.

P.P.S. This post is dedicated to Ohio's Black Bear Caledonia Pipe Band and my college buddy Brian Borowski, who just happens to be the group's pipe major. Fancy that.

Another Accordion Crime

This time a "stocky white man wearing a black hat" broke into a U.K. youth hostel and stole an accordion, according to the Hampstead & Highgate Express.

Here's the tragic twist on the ol' "they stole the car and left two accordions" joke: "The Excelsior piano accordion, worth thousands of pounds, was the only instrument stolen from the hostel practice room."

The victim, 18-year-old Lithuanian squeezer Ksenija Sidorova, is described as a "virtuoso teenage musician ... left devastated after her beloved accordion was taken by thieves."

It's a long-shot, but here goes. Detective Sgt. Paul Stephens from Camden Police says: "Have you seen the stolen accordion or do you know someone who has? Has someone approached you in attempt to sell it to you? I am appealing for anyone with any information which may assist the investigation to come forward to police."

Anyone with information should call Camden Police on 020-8733 6913 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Bright Spot for Terrance Simien

Louisiana zydeco squeezer Terrance Simien will be featured in a TV ad for Sylvania Light Bulbs, according to The Daily Advertiser. It will first show up in three cities (including Milwaukee and Minneapolis) before going national, according to the publication.

Those Darn Accordions had the honor of sharing the stage with Simien and his band, The Zydeco Experience, at the Johnstown FolkFest last year. They sounded great and performed with such energy and enthusiasm that it's easy to see why the TV folks would want to feature him playing his button box.

The funny thing is, Simien's wife and manager had to pull some strings to get zydeco's other premier instrument added to the commercial.

"At first, they were just going to do the accordion," Cynthia Simien told the Advertiser. "But I had to insist they do the rubboard.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Space Age Song Inspiration

If you are inclined to write songs about life in the weird lane, you don't have to look far for inspiration. I guarantee someone will have a ditty about this bizarre NASA tale within a week.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Crazy Cornhusk TDA

Suzanne and I spent a week in Ohio recently, and one thing I managed to get done (despite the extreme lack of broadband) was documenting possibly the strangest tribute to TDA ever.

The title of this blog post pretty much sums it up: It's a cornhusk doll version of Those Darn Accordions, commissioned by my mom. One thing that's particularly jarring -- other than the cornhusk creations' resemblance to voodoo dolls -- is that the folk artist who created them dressed them in period clothes. So what you've got here is a collection of cornhusk dolls in super-old-school outfits (or maybe a modern-day Amish version of TDA).

You've pretty much got to see it to believe it. (And no fair blaming me if you have Children of the Corn nightmares.)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Purty Arty Accordion Pix

A Flickr photo set captures Josh Lederman y los Diablos in action on their recent California tour. (The Mad Maggies had the joy of opening up for the band on a couple of Bay Area dates. Nice guys.)

Anyway, that's a mighty nice-looking crimson Acctone accordion that John Buczkowski is playing (sounded sweet, too).