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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bah Chumbug!

Is it possible that I’m the only J-blogger who hasn’t written a post about Channuka? That’s hard to believe. Why haven’t I written something about it? There must be some good reasons.

4. I’m too busy. That’s a good reason. Although I’m busy all the time. I’m not too busy to write this, right?

3. I have nothing interesting to say. That may be true, but it’s never stopped me before. It might be more accurate to say that I have nothing to add to what’s already been said out there.

2. I’m sick of the “War on Christmas.” Well, yeah, there is that. It’s everywhere. No need to for me weigh in on this one. Although I have no problem with the Christmas issue. I understand the point. I wouldn’t want someone telling me I have to call my Menorah a “Holiday Candelabra.” I mean, why would you call it a “Holiday Tree?” What other holiday is it for? Arbor Day? And in my practice, I end up saying “Merry Christmas” a heck of a lot more often than “Happy Channuka.” No I don’t feel threatened by Christmas (despite last year’s tirade). As a practicing Orthodox Jew, I’m very secure in my Judaism. Personally, I don’t think of Channuka as something tacked on to Christmas. Channuka came first. If anything, I think the Christians tacked their holiday on to Channuka. If I’m upset about anything related to the “WOC”, it’s that Channuka is being equated to Kwanzaa.

1. So, the real reason I didn’t write about Channuka this year: I hate repeating myself. I realize that blogs are supposed to be timely. We write about things that go on as time goes by, and people check in to see “what’s new,” so there’s an expectation that we are going to write about things that occur during the Calendar. Like Toikey Day or Yom Kippur. So all the bloggers are writing about Christmas or Channuka or Kwanzaa or Boxing Day. But I HATE TO REPEAT MYSELF. I’m on my second annual blogging cycle right now, and that means that I’m on my second cycle of writing about all the holidays I wrote about last year. And it’s pretty clear to me now that I have NOTHING NEW OR OF ANY VALUE TO SAY ON THESE SUBJECTS.

So I think I’ll stop typing right about…..now

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Cro Magnon Movie Review

King Kong

Cro Magnon Man drag female by hair last night to see Peter Jackson version “King Kong.”

Cro Magnon need to set record straight: Cro Magnon LIKE De Lorentiis ’76 version with Jessica Lange. Jessica Lange…grrrrrl grrrroowwwwlllllll……. Cro Magnon think that version right for times. So what King Kong only Homo Sapien in suit? Look good on big screen. And Cro Magnon feel nostalgia for World Trade Center. Snif.

But now have new version from Oscar-Winning Director Jackson, so must see. Female not want to go. She want play X-Men on Playstation 2. Hah! How that for turning tables! Now it Cro Magnon turn to give FEMALE guilt trip! “Female only want to play video games. Never go out with Cro Magnon! Female care more about Wolverine than Cro Magnon!” So, Female come to Multiplex.

Arrrrr!!!!! How they charge $8.50 for movie ticket?! No time to rant. Need get to seat so not miss Coming Attractions. Female already upset we there too early. Female HATE coming attractions! Why need to rush Female to get to movie on time, when have to sit through 20 minutes commercials?! Bah!!

Cro Magnon pay no heed. Cro Magnon LIKE Coming Attractions. Usually much better than movie! Cro Magnon look for good seats. Ha! There good seat in first row! What?? Female not want sit there? Move up to MIDDLE???!!! ROOOAAAARRRRRR!!!!! What point of THAT???? Cro Magnon can watch small picture in own CAVE!! Not go to movies to sit in BACK!!

FINE!! Cro Magnon not stranger to compromise. Understand Male/Female relationship about give and take. Also understand it important Female think she take more than give. Cro Magnon reluctantly move to middle. At least not have neck ache.

Ahhhhhh….finally movie start! Movie LOOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG….. What deal with every movie more than 3 hour now? What director think DVD for? Cro Magnon want tell Peter Jackson he need do better job EDITING. Even Cro Magnon know that. Cro Magnon think many scenes better for ‘deleted scenes gallery’ or ‘extended director’s cut’ version. Not needed in Theatrical Version. Cro Magnon not have attention span issues, but Cro Magnon have MAJOR BLADDER issues and at end of movie feel he will explode. Cro Magnon think whole subplot with “Heart of Darkness” not add to film. Also think a few battles on Skull Island not necessary. Female agree she live long and happy life without seeing giant bug battle. Cro Magnon happy to watch that in cave on DVD with cave children.

Cro Magnon think cast wonderful. Cro Magnon big fan of Jack Black. Cannot say enough about Jack Black. But Cro Magnon not able to take Jack Black seriously. Even when have serious or terrified expression on face, Cro Magnon still think Jack Black making big joke. Or about to start song. Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody add touch of class to film and Cro Magnon and Female enjoy watching them.

Which bring to Kong. Kong very well made. Look natural. Not suffer from rubbery or overfluid movement of typical digital character (wave at Jar Jar). Kong remind Cro Magnon of fellow co-worker in rock quarry. Also have thing for skinny blondes.

Cro Magnon enjoy sets depicting old New York. Empire State Building look spectacular. Especially appreciate homage to original film in scene with final bi-plane battle. Many shots copied. MMMM….feel good to see again. But Cro Magnon disappointed that much of Skull Island look fake. Big overhead view of Islander city remind Cro Magnon too much of Lord of Rings city flyovers. Expect to see Orcs on walls. Not look bad, but look much like model with CGI characters painted in. Take Cro Magnon out of illusion of reality. Cro Magnon think ’76 film do Skull Island better. Also, early dinosaurs not look so good. Apatosauri look rubbery and fake, particularly when puny Homo Sapiens running between feet. Take it from Cro Magnon, he know what it like to run from Dinosaur! But T-Rex battles done well.

So overall, Cro Magnon and Female like movie, but feel too long and over reliance on digital characters take away from immersion.

Final score: 3 grunts.

Merry Anniversary

"Don't go to Chicago."

Four words.

Four words my father said to me. Four words that could have changed my life, had I listened to them. But of course, I did not. Why not? Because when you're 19 and someone offers to fly your band across country to play for a youth convention, you ignore your Old Man's advice and you go.

His reasoning had absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of the trip. He told me not to go because it was cold in Chicago. No arguing with that. It was -17 degrees when I got off the plane at O'Hare. -17? I had never experienced cold like that. We musicians were dressed for New York cold, not Chicago cold. We shivered in the overstuffed cars all the way to Lake Geneva.

So he was right about the cold. But I went to the Midwest to play music. What neither he nor I expected was that I would come back with a wife.

Well, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic. The convoy of cars drove from Chicago's O'Hare Airport for a little over an hour in the freezing dark of night until we pulled up in front of the Americana Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We shlepped our bags, amps and instruments into the convention center. I looked at my bass speaker. It was demolished. It looked as if one of the baggage handlers had taken a real dislike to it. And maybe he and a few of his friends had jumped up and down on the speaker. A few. Dozen. Times. This was bad. Because I had talked some very reluctant YU guy into lending it to me for the trip.

I think I had a very pathetic look on my face when the director of event introduced me to my...crew. Actually, I'm not sure what I was supposed to call them. I never had a crew before. But it was a pair of young women who were supposed to be responsible for the band. Get us tea. Keep us from kvetching. Make sure we showed up to play. I don't want to cast aspersions any prior musicians, but apparently, the previous band had required quite a bit of TLC.

Back to sad little me trying to figure out how I was a) going to play without a bass speaker and b) explain to the guy back home that I ruined his cabinet. I was pretty sad-looking when they introduced me to this thin little waif of a girl with the biggest bluest eyes I had ever seen and told me she was responsible for keeping me happy. That took me by surprise. None of the band knew how to react. Normal people would have probably introduced themselves and thanked them for their offer of help.

We instead decided to pretend we were from England. Well, if they were going to go to the trouble of treating us like rock stars, we might as well act like rock stars! We put on our best Spinal Tap accents and promptly began acting like a bunch of immature putzes. At some point during the weekend, our accents ran out. Despite this, our 'crew' continued to do their jobs and pay attention to us.

I wasn't sure what to make of the blue-eyed one. She seemed refined and somewhat delicate. But as soon as she opened her mouth, you could tell who was in charge. She was telling everyone what to do. The regional director. The head adviser. The technical director. My guitar player. But that wasn't the surprising part. The surprising part was that everyone listened! I don't think that convention could have run without her.

So we musicians did our jobs too. I plugged my bass into the keyboard amp and it worked. And the band roomed together and we made comments about each other's hygeine. And we talked to the kids and told them how cool it was to be in an Orthodox Jewish Rock Band.

And I still had time to hang out with Blue-eyes. We talked about almost everything. We shot some pool. She brought us tea. But to be honest, as a musician, I was used to attention from girls. Strap a guitar to the dorkiest guy and he still becomes a chick magnet. There was something else about this one. I was impressed by her competence. And her sincerity. And her sense of humor. And the blue eyes. But I think there was one other thing that sealed the deal for me, and this is the first time I'm putting it together.
It was a long, five day event. We were staying up playing and having sessions and singing until the early hours of the morning. And one of the staff got sick. No big deal. She was just puking all over the place and stuck in bed. I think this was the night of the big banquet, and everyone was dressed up all fancy. Most people were content to send her to her room and leave her there. But Blue-eyes went to her room and took care of her. Brought her water, cool compresses, held her hand. I can't tell you how impressed I was. When the band was back on the plane headed to New York, I turned to one of my mates and said, "I'm going to marry that girl."

I'll never forget the date I first saw her. December 25, 1985.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Psychotoddler and Bean part 15: The Pictures

Parts 1-14 are organized nicely here by Doctor Bean.

The PT is not too happy to see us leaving at 6am.

The Frozen tarmack at Mitchell Field.

Dining with bloggers: L-R:
Mrs. Balabusta, Ball-and-Chain, Sophia, Anne of Inland Empress, Baby Lael (under the table), Brett of Dadtalk, Neil of Citizen of the Month, Doctor Bean. Not pictured: Psychotoddler (taking the picture)

You know how much I love sushi. But what you don't know is that I have no idea how to eat sushi. Especially with chopsticks.

The "after" picture.

Just keep swimming just keep swimming swimming swimming what do we do we swim....I tried 3 times to get a good picture of this Dori fish. My camera sucks.

The obligatory picture of the out-of-towner traveling down Doheny Drive. Crap! A bus!

Me and Russell Crowe run into Homestar Runner. Hilarity ensues.

Doctor Bean and Ball-in-Chain run into King Kong. Hilarity ensues.

It was a rough flight over...

Is it really that simple?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Looking for Mr. Goodstein

It is an age-old question with which doctors have wrestled for generations. Perhaps as old as the practice of Medicine itself:

What to do if the patient you are visiting is not in his room? Does Muhammad go to the Mountain? Or does Muhammad wait for the Mountain to get wheeled back up from radiology?

Such was the dilemma that Doctor Bean and I faced when he somehow talked me into making rounds with him at General Hospital on Sunday.

Doctor Bean was a disciple of the school of thought that said, "Oh well. We'll come back later."

But me? I learned from the school of hard knocks. Knock hard on the door. No answer? Knock harder. We didn't 'come back later' in The South Bronx. No sir. Coming back later could get you killed! Would you cross town through a volley of gunfire just because a patient was off somewhere getting a barium enema? Of course not. So I was determined to show him how we did things where I came from.

"No, seriously PT, we'll come back later."

"What are you, a sissy, Doctor?"


"We're gonna find that patient, and we're gonna examine him, and then by golly we're gonna bill him! Is that clear?"

"It's really no big deal--"


"--I live 5 minutes from here..."

"Get to the nursing station and find out where that AWOL patient is!!"

We soon found out that Mr. Goodstein, 87 years old with a bad hip and a badder ticker, was down in XRAY getting his pelvis irradiated.

"OK Bean. Let's ride."

"But I don't know where Radiology is. I've never even been down there."

"You call yourself an Attending Physician? You're the sorriest excuse for a doctor I've ever seen. Now get to that stairwell and give me 20..steps!"

"Actually, it would be better if we took the elevator."

And so we did. As we rode down that metal chariot to the unknown hell that lay beneath us, Doctor Bean took those last few moments of sanctuary to go over information about the patient. Information, that might prove vital to the very survival of our missing man.

We exited the elevator and soon approached the gateway to the unknown.

"I really don't know where this goes."

"No time for cowardice now, Bean. There's no turning back."

"Why not? We can still come back lat--"

"NO GUTS NO GLORY, BEANHEAD!! Now get through those doors or I'll fill you with gastrograffin!"

Reluctantly, Doctor Bean pushed forwards. And then to the right. And then to the right again. And twice to the left. A door was open. We peered inside.

Nothing. Nothing but the empty shell of a once vital and operating CT scanner.

"I don't know what kind of Armageddon happened down here, Bean, but WE'LL FIND YOUR MAN!"

"Really, I don't know where they do the hip XRAYs."

"We'll search this labyrinth room by room if necessary!"

"But that could take hours!"

"Then we'd better get started."

"But our wives, they're waiting for us and they'll get mad if we're late!"


"Uhh...yeah....um...right. Good thinking.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I like-a to say, "Holy Cr-p!"

Sweet Smokin' Jes--!

Somebody nominated me for a JIB award for best humor blog!

Git yer butts over there and vote!

Psychotoddler and Bean, PT 1

Hmm...Sounds like the name of a shlocky '70s detective show set in Los Angeles. Oddly appropriate.

Mrs. Balabusta was kind enough to start the chronicle for me. All I have to add to that is that it is very clear to me that Gd Himself chased us out of Milwaukee. A snow storm! Single-digit temperatures for a week! ANOTHER snow storm! It wasn't quite the Amityville Horror "GEETTT OUUUTTTTT" but it was pretty darn close.

After we touched down in LA, we made our way towards the baggage claim area. As we walked, I made up with my wife that she would do a funny accent, since Doctor Bean had spoken to me on the phone (once!), but had never heard her speak. So she tried on her Milwaukee accent:

"Ohhh yaaaa, it's kinda warm here, doncha know!"

"That's a little thick I think. You sound Jamaican. Try more subtle."

"How's dis, ehna?"

"Nope. Now it's gone. Forget it."

So we gave up on that plan and just used our regular voices. Dr. Bean was easy to spot since he does bear more than a passing resemblance to that picture of Rowan Atkinson that he uses (but he's much better looking). Not that Rowan Atkinson is a slouch. He's attractive in that I'm an odd-looking Englishman sort of way. But I'm way off topic now).

I had thought of course that it would be incredibly awkward meeting him for the first time. We'd been chatting and exchanging emails and comments for months. So, he wasn't exactly a stranger. We actually knew quite a bit about each other. But, I mean, we were meeting for the first time!


But it wasn't weird. It felt more like I was seeing an old college buddy for the first time in years, but unlike my actual college buddies, this was one that I was keeping in touch with regularly.

I don't know how else to describe it. We instantly fell into the same quips and traded one-liners that regular readers of this blog have become accustomed to. It was as if we had been friends for years.

After a few completely unintelligible loudspeaker comments (which were bizarrely coming from a woman not 5 feet away but which still sounded like someone announcing stops on the 6 train), we had our luggage and were off to the Beanmobile.

Doctor Bean was busy showing us the sites of first, LAX ("Hey Bean, is there some reason why they surrounded the airport with sculptures that look like smoke stacks?"),

then Hollywood.

Despite giving up on our plan to do fake accents, it wasn't long before Bean asked Mrs B. where her charming accent came from.

Eventually we made our way to the Bean Estate. I won't describe it too much, so as not to give away too many clues towards the Beans' secret identities, but the place is gorgeous. Meticulously clean, perfectly decorated. I'm having serious thoughts about retracting my invitation to him and Ball-and-Chain to visit the PT hovel in Milwaukee.

In fact as soon as we entered their state-of-the-art kitchen, Mrs. Balabusta started hitting me over the head with her purse.


I of course took some pictures, but in the interest of sparing any other underachieving male spouses out there a similar beating, I will refrain from publishing them.

Now, it goes without saying that the credit for the perfectly arranged house, which seems lifted directly from the pages of Fancy Shmancy Interior Designs that will Never Look as Good in Your House Magazine, goes not to Doctor Bean, but to the lovely Ball-and-Chain, who is every bit as beautiful and welcoming as Doctor Bean always says she is. Once again, here was a woman whom we were literally seeing for the first time, but felt totally at ease with.

We felt like we had come home.

Except to a really really reeaaalllyy nice and clean home.

How could four small children possibly be living here? It turns out that they were, for we were soon introduced to them. We quickly spotted similarities to our own horde. There's one that sounds a lot like Iguana and one that is destined to become the next Psychotoddler. The dynamics between the kids are slightly different than with our own, only because the Beans started a little later and did a better job with...uh, spacing. Like I said, we felt very much at home.

Ball-and-Chain and Dr. Bean share a quiet moment reading together shortly after our arrival

Soon it was time to prepare for Shabbos. I mean, Shabbat.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover...

"...but there are only 8 ways to exit this aircraft," said the flight attendant. Yes, in Hollywood, even the stewardesses are in Show Business. Which means that I'm officially back in the land of the ice and snow.

Stories and pictures to follow.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Greetings, Earthlings

Just a quick update from LALA land:

I don't have time to do our visit justice; expect a more detailed blow-by-blow in the weeks to come. I just want to say that so far the trip is wonderful. The blogger dinner last night exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I'm generally an introverted wallflower in group settings. Last night I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I could have talked to these people all night long.

The Beans have been magnificent hosts. The kids are adorable, the food delicious, the house is meticul--


Stop that!

Why are you doing that?

Don't be ridiculous!

No, nobody is going to decend on you like locusts!

That's nuts! Nobody knows where you live!

Oh, fine.

Uh, folks, uh...scratch those last few lines. The Beans have been feeding us dog food and making us sleep in a damp garage.

Anyway, just wanted to put down a quick thought before it eludes me. It was great meeting all the bloggers yesterday. But I have discovered one thing about the blogosphere. It's not the same as real life. Virtual friends have different properties than actual friends. For example, if a bunch of people talk to each other daily, and all seem to congregate in the same place, you assume a certain common network of relationships exists. You know all the same people.

It often seems that way on the internet, but in fact it's not true. So just because Brett, and Inland Empress, and Citizen of the Month (and Sophia), and Doctor Bean, and Ball-and-Chain, and Mrs. Balabusta all interact in some way or another with regularity at Chez Psychotoddler, we are not, in fact, a virtual rat pack moving from blog to blog and reading the same things at the same time.

So it was a little disconcerting to bring up say, DovBear, or Luke Ford, or Treppenwitz, or Ezzie, or Toronto Pearl, and assume that these guys and gals knew these people and blogs as well as myself, only to find that they didn't know to whom or what I was referring. Yes, they all know me, and yes, the blogosphere is a web of links and references and commenters, but no, we're not all moving around as a group.

Except for Jack. I'm pretty sure he's following me.

See y'all next week.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Goodbye Milwaukee...

My New Best Friend

It is ffffffreeeeezzzzing out here in the Midwest. And it's so cold and dry outside that my fingers are starting to split open by the nails. And it's worse because I am washing my hands all day long and they are getting dish-panned. So I have these incredibly painful, paper-cut like splits on the tips of my fingers, y'know, where all the nerve endings are.

But all is not lost, because I discovered the best way to treat this crippling affliction: Krazy Glue. Bonds in seconds with amazing strength without clamps, mixing or mess. If it can suspend a fat guy by his hat from a steel girder hundreds of feet above the ground, surely it can seal my wittle fingers back together.

I just put a little drop into the groove where the split is, and smoosh it together for a few seconds. Kids, don't try this at home. I'm a trained professional. Ahhhh....that's better. Back to typing!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What's on Your iPod...

...Nothing. I don't own an iPod. Now hold on, I have nothing against you young'uns and your 'newfangled' technology. Psychotoddler was once quite the 'early adopter.' But I just don't have the need for one. I know what you're saying:

"How the heck does he know what we're saying?"

"Quiet, that's not what he was going to say we were saying!"

"Well I bet he didn't know we were going to say

"Don't mind him, PT, go on and tell us what we were saying."

Er...well what I thought you would be saying is, "Come on, PT, you're a musician! How can you not have the latest, hottest music technology?"

Because personally, I think MP3s, while very convenient, are a step in the wrong direction as far as music goes. And I'm not talking about piracy. I'm talking about fidelity. MP3s just don't sound as good as CDs. They are getting better, to be sure, but if you listen to a WAV file of a song, and then go and listen to the MP3, you can hear an enormous difference. The MP3 is thin, distorted, full of drop-outs, and shallow. (No jokes about LA please). To me it's like a bad cassette dupe of a great vinyl album. And if you put all that effort, as a musician, into crafting a great sounding song, it's as shame to hear it squished down into an acoustic sardine can.

Which is not to say that I don't listen to MP3s anyway. I was ripping songs to MP3s from the very beginning. Mostly my own, of course. I found it to be the easiest way to post my band's music on the net. And over the years I've re-ripped songs as better compression engines have come out.

But I have no need for a personal MP3 player for one reason: I don't walk around listening to music on headphones. I listen almost exclusively in my car. And I don't have a radio in my car that can accept an auxiliary jack from an MP3 player. And even if I did, I don't think I want to carry one around with me, and I definitely don't want to leave it in my car.

So I'ma wait until a cheap radio with a built-in hard drive comes out, so I can just load my favorite songs into the car and leave them there. Maybe with 'wireless technology.' That would be cool. Y'know, to like, load my music from my home network to my car from the warmth of my own dungeon. Mmm...warm dungeon....

Well, until then, I'll settle with what I've got. Which is a car CD player that can play MP3 cds. I can fit about 200 songs on each disk, between 10-15 albums. I have one with the entire Led Zeppelin collection. Mmmm....Led Zeppelin... They have like, a jillion songs, and no two are alike. Not even the blues!

So, anyway, Ezzie, the fine product of Yeshiva Higher Education that he is, tagged me to the iPod meme. And I reminded him that I already did the "what's in my car CD" thing before people were tagging other people for memes. But those CDs all got stolen when my car was broken into. Hence the MP3 CD player. So here's a sampling of what I'm listening to now:

Franz Ferdinand: All for you Sophia
The Sparklifters
Matisyahu: Live at Stubb's
Pey Dalid
Rush: La Villa Strangiata
Steely Dan: Hey 19
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Universally Speaking,Parallel Universe
Foreigner: Dirty White Boy
The Cure: Lovecats
Piamenta Live: Od Yishama (awesome song)
Skier Songs: I made a disk with all my Kabblah, Tohu Vavohu, and Moshe Skier Band stuff, live stuff, studio, rehearsals, etc.
Squeeze: Cool for Cats
Garbage: Breaking up the Girl
Yes: Starship Trooper
Blondie: Heart of Glass
Wings: Uncle Albert
Elvis Costello: The Angels want to wear my Red Shoes
Pink Floyd: Money
Supertramp: The Logical Song

I'm Reclaiming that Quote

It's interesting that despite having a fairly open-ended blog, I often end up getting into long personal back-and-forth email sessions with other bloggers about the subjects of posts or comments I leave.

And is often the case, these interesting emails lead to a crystalization of the idea that I may have crudely described in my original post. So too is a recent correspondence between myself and Toronto Pearl regarding my California trip. It's only fair that she be involved in this mess, because I now think that it was her trip to LA earlier this year that planted the seed for my upcoming adventure.

So my reasoning led me here.

Beware the Thought Police

Marquette suspends dental student for blog comments

Take home message: Don't blog about work or school.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Snow Sorry

I'd like to apologize to the people who showed up at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park Melaveh Malka last night for the non-appearance of 2/3 of my band. (I should also apologize to the 1/3 of my band who packed up his stuff, drove down to Chicago, unpacked and set up his drums before I could contact him to let him know I wouldn't make it).

In all the hundreds of gigs I've played, I can't think of more than one or two that I had to cancel. And one was due to an assassination, definitely not under my control. Anyway, I am bummed that I couldn't get to Chi-town for this gig. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

I learned something about myself last night. I don't deal well with change. If I make a plan, I stick with it, regardless of how facts on the ground (or in the air) may change. Very rigid thinker, I am. And I don't take hints well.

It started off well enough yesterday. When I came home from shul in the morning, the weather was clear. By the time I went down for my Shabbos afternoon shluffy, a few flakes were falling. When I woke up for mincha, the ground was covered with snow, and it was still coming down heavily. And by havdalah time, there were a few inches on the ground.

After Shabbos, I went upstairs to print off a set list. My wife asked if I had checked with the National Weather Service. I said no, I could tell it was snowing. She said I should cancel the gig. It looked too dangerous on the roads. I said, this is Wisconsin. We don't cancel gigs for snow.

Then I called my guitarist, Mendel, to see if he was ready to be picked up. His wife also had reservations, and his father had apparently called and advised us to stay home. Nonsense, I said. Snow shmow. I'm a good driver (said Speed Racer). Besides, the streets may look bad, but the highways are usually OK. And I had already called someone in Chicago, who said the roads were fine there.

I should have seen it as a sign that, between the time I pulled up to Mendel's house and the time I actually drove off, I had to take out my snow brush and clear off the windows a few times. We pulled out and headed towards the highway. The streets were sloppy, but drivable.

Highway 41 was a sheet of white. No lanes. Not many cars either, which was OK, since I didn't feel comfortable going more than 25 MPH. Unfortunately, there were some SUVs who felt perfectly fine going 50, and they were scaring the cwap out of me. The merge onto 94 was another story. It was bumper to bumper all the way downtown. I was OK with that, because it meant nobody would be roaring past me.

As we inched our way towards the Marquette Interchange, I noticed that my car, driving as it was through the thick treads left by the SUV in front of me, wasn't always moving in the direction I wanted. Sometimes it was veering towards the median. I moved to a middle lane.

We eventually made it past the interchange and onto the main highway going South to Chicago. I should tell non-Midwesterners that it is typically a 70-80 minute drive from Milwaukee to Chicago. Give or take for traffic. We were already close to an hour into the drive, and had not left the city limits yet. Eventually, I passed a car which had done a 180 and smashed into the median. This, I mused, was the source of the traffic. And sure enough, after this car, the traffic became much lighter.

That was not a good development. Because at that point, cars, trucks and SUVs started moving a lot faster. And I still had very poor traction on my Geo. I started to wonder when it was that I had last replaced my tires. Or rotated them. Well, scratch that, I never rotate my tires. As long as the car is going straight, and not stopping suddenly, I have some control over it, I thought. Meanwhile, the highway ahead was still pure white, with no visible lanes, and snow was coming down heavily, but not heavily enough that it kept my windshield wipers from making that awful scraping sound every few wipes.

"You know," I said to Mendel, "It's at times like this when I'm inching along on a snow-covered highway during a blizzard, in a car filled with expensive guitars and no traction, that I really wished I'd listened to what my mother had told me when I was younger."

"What did she tell you?"

"I don't know. I didn't listen!"

Anyway, I thought, OK, I'll just keep going straight to Chicago. It's got to be better down there. That thought comforted me for about 5 minutes. That's when I noticed, in the lane to the right of mine, about 3 cars up, a pickup truck. The truck started to fishtail wildly, swerving from side to side in ever-increasing radii until it finally lost control, turned a full 90 degrees to the left, and drove straight across my lane, impacting with median. Then a car in front of me hit the truck.

I let out a brief, but calm, obscenity, and, with my video game-enhanced reflexes, veered the car to the right and narrowly avoided becoming part of the pile-up.

For a brief moment, after this, I looked at the highway ahead, which was completely clear of cars at this point, and though, "What the heck, how much worse can it get?"

That's when Mendel snapped me out of it. "This is nuts. We have kids. We need to turn around." And he was right, of course. So we got off the highway and made a slow journey back home.

I feel terrible about standing up all the great people who came out on a cold Saturday night to hear us play. But at least we lived to play another day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Out of Context Lines I Heard Tonight

Iguana: You can afford to be a little smarter...


Fudge: I'll tell you all a secret: When you clap your hands, Weed appears!

BTW if you missed Fudge's Radio show, it sounded an awful lot like this.

California Here I Come

Today I reminded my partner that he had promised to cover me next week while I am away in California.

"Oh yeah, right. Why are you going to California again? Do you have some family there?"

And it was at that point where I remembered that I had forgotten to come up with a good reason for the trip. Because the real reason probably wouldn't sound too good.

"Oh, I met this guy on the internet..."


"And, um, so my wife and I are going out there to meet him and his family."

"I see. So you're meeting guys on the internet now?"

"Well it's not quite like that." NO WAY am I going to start telling him about the blog.

"What's his name?"

"Oh, his name? Er...Doctor Bean..."

"Did you say Doctor BEAN?!?"

"Well no, that's not his real name..."

"Do you mean to tell me that you're flying 2000 miles to see some strange guy you met on the internet and YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HIS REAL NAME??"

Boy this was getting harder and harder to explain..."Well, sure I know his name. I mean, we chat almost every day..." That's it, tell him that you talk to this guy more than people you actually know.

"So you're chatting with a strange guy named 'Doctor Bean', and now you're going to meet him in California."

"Well, when you put it that way, it does sound a little creepy."

"Hey dude, whatever floats your goat."

I was really scrambling here. How do I explain to a non-blogger what the blogosphere is like? Do I even want to? Can I explain that, through the magic of the J-Blogging community, I found a guy that I enjoy talking to on a daily basis about Judaism, Medicine, family, and Battlestar Galactica?

"OK, you got me. Actually I'm going out to Los Angeles because I'm thinking about relocating my practice there."

Maniacal laughter.

"Good one. I liked your first story better."


Y'know, it's a little odd. I got into blogging because there were things that I couldn't discuss with the people around me, but that I could discuss in the blogosphere. And now it seems, now that blogging itself has become something important to me, I find that I have one more thing that I can't discuss with those around me. And so I do crave the company of other bloggers, if for no other reason than just to relax and discuss our wonderful new community.