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Monday, January 29, 2007

Attack of the Pod People!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYaaaaawn!! Morning allllready! I'm so excited! I can't wait to see if my plan worked! I put those three pods next to the bed last night, and if all went well, there should be three extra copies of me running around, helping me do all my chores and duties! Hmmm...what time is it anywa--HOLY CRAP!! I musta overslept! Well, no time to lose---I'd better hop in the shower.

Hey, who's in the bathroom?


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWho's in there??


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOpen up! I need to get in!


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThat doesn't sound right...Hey! This is the Original Psychotoddler! Who's in there?? Is this a Pod Person??

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingRRRRROOOOOOAAAARRRR!!!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhat the--!!! Cro Magnon Man?! What are YOU doing here?!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingGRRRRROOOOWWWWLLLL!!! Cro Magnon try to use bathroom!! What you think?! Even as Pod Person, Cro Magnon not get any PRIVACY!! Grrrrrr.... (Storms off)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting(Scratching head) I don't get it...I thought the Pod Guy would be an exact copy of me...I wonder what this means...Well, better get in the bathro--HOLY CRAP!! Cro Magnon Pod Dude! What you been doing in here!! Whew!!

(One shower and a quick fumagation later...)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWell, maybe I was dreaming about being a caveman when the Pod was working on that one...What? Nobody else dreams about cavemen?? Anyway, I'd better get breakfast going so I can get to work. Yep, yep, time for some trusty Cheerios and--WHAT THE CRAP?!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHAIL, O' Chief Toddler!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPsychobarbarian!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYes, verily, 'tis I!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDon't tell me you're the second Pod Person!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAs doth the mighty blade follow close in the cast of its maker, so too doth I follow in the mold of the Mighty One!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI asked you not to tell me! So, uh, I guess you're not the one that's going to minyan this morning?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI hath already beseeched the very deities for morning sustenance; and yea, have I been victorious in the hunt!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSo...you got breakfast ready then!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFrom early light didst I track my prey, and then, when it reared its ugly head, did I stab it fiercely in the heart!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWell, that would explain all the cereal on the floor...

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt did put up a valorous fight, yet was it no match for a warrior such as Psychobarbarian!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI don't suppose you left any Cheerios for me?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI hath stricken the last of the Cheerios from this fortress, yet still doth I see some Cocoa Puffs on yon shelf!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWell, I guess it'll have to do. So wait, if Cro Magnon Man is upstairs, and you're down here, where's the third Pod Person?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWe tried it once your way....Toddler...are you...game. For. A rematch?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingShatner! My old friend! Is it really you!?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYes! Old! Friend! You've managed to...bungle...all of the...other Pods, but it would seem that your..True. Personality has finally come....through.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingBut I don't understand! You're not one of my alternate blog personalities! You're like, a real person!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMaybe...not..in this...dimension. Maybe...in this--dimension..I. Am. Aaaa.....paaart of...WHO..you are! Maybe...somebody...(gestures at the ceiling) up there....wasn't...entertained by your...little rendition of the Holy Kaddish...

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOh, My G-d, Mrs Balabustah! I forgot she's got a Pod too!(runs upstairs)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMaybe the...universe has a sense of humor after all, eh, Mr. Spock? Maybe that's what makes us...human.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingBaaaah!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMrs B! Mrs B! I can explain everything!! WHAT THE--!!!!! HOT CHANIE(TM)!!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYou were expecting maybe Carol Brady??

Friday, January 26, 2007

Body Snatchers Wanted

I was watching the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a movie that really creeped me out as a kid. And I was thinking about how upset Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum were about all these people with duplicate bodies growing and everything.

And it occurred to me that, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a couple of extra me's around. Y'know, like one to go to minyan, and one to go to each of the three hospitals I was supposed to round at before 8:30 am this morning, and maybe one to see my patients in the clinic, and one to get to my afternoon consulting job on time, while maybe another goes through all the charts on my desks and answers all the phone messages.

That would leave me to do the non-essential things that I seem not to have time for, like sleep at night and eat during the day.

Pod people? I say bring them on.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Like Father, Like Son

Milwaukee Public Museum, 1988

Milwaukee Public Museum, 2007

Back to the Future (aka fun with Paintshop Pro)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

And for my next act...

This has been a very busy week for me, musically.

It started last Sunday with a Hachnasas Sefer Torah (a procession to bring in a new Torah scroll to the shul) in which I played with the shul band (3 guitarists, a clarinet, keyboard, drums, and me on bass). That was a lot of fun and included Rabbi T. doing his trademark dance to the Belzer Hakofo (so-called "Shark in the Mikveh"). We got to use Avremi G's chart book on that gig, and while I like most of it, I found a number of mistakes in the chords (unless he's going for "jazz", but some notes just don't sound right with some chords). One thing I did discover on that gig is that it's hard to read charts on songs that you know by ear, unless the charts use the same chord changes. Grrrr....

Tuesday I did an engagement party at one of the Chabad places with my "Klez Trio". Need to find a better name for the group. I'm having more and more fun with them. I've discovered I really enjoy playing the quieter acoustic gigs...it allows me to connect more directly with the audience. It's also nice when people aren't covering their ears whenever we play.

Last night I did a Melaveh Malka for the local Kollel and the Judaism Without Walls group, a local outreach group that does spectacular work. That was just me on acoustic and the mandolin guy in someone's dining room. Rabbi T. showed up and we did a few of his tunes and a bunch of Carlebach stuff and Diaspora Yeshiva Band's "Bemotzoei Yom Menucha" which has always been one of my favorite songs. I had a number of drinks during the course of the evening including vanilla vodka, Chivas Regal, some kind of Orange Brandy, and something else, and Mrs. B. had to drive me home. Then I answered some emails and apparently embarrassed myself greatly.

Today I'm off to Chicago to play a gig for Torah Kollel Mitziyon with Shlomo Katz. This is very similar to the gig I did last year with Aron Razel. And of course it's snowing today.

So all in all it's been a pretty busy year so far. Aside from the above, add in a couple of gigs with Shlock Rock, Razel, the acoustic coffee house shows, the Chicago Melaveh Malkes, Chabad Sukkah gig, and the Moshe Skier Band shows at Summerfest, Knishmas, and elsewhere, and this has probably been one of my busiest music schedules since I moved to the Midwest.

And most of it since my Father passed away. It's curious. I'm sure part of it is that I'm not one of those musicians who can just play the same thing over and over and over again. I diversify. I like playing with different people and doing different types of music. And certainly, this blog has opened up some opportunities for me. But none of that is really new.

As I was discussing with one of the Chabad guys, I think the answer is that the Ribono Shel Olam just doesn't want me to be so sad this year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Neighborhood Patrol

I recently volunteered for the Neighborhood Patrol once a month. Last night was my first shift. What follows is the log of our activities:

19:45 Proceeded to my partner's house to pick him up for the patrol. I was the designated driver.

20:00 Patrol begins.

20:01 Made stop at local donut store for shakedown.

20:13 Suspicious vehicle seen double parked on N 49th Street. Police contacted; ticket issued.

20:25 Observed late '70s model Oldmobile running red light. Rolled down my window and yelled "Citizen's Arrest!! Citizen's Arrest!!" Vehicle did not stop. Policed notified of license plate number.

20:30 Observed suspicious teenagers congregating in front of house on N 55th Street. Rolled down window, shined flashlight at them, and yelled "You darn kids! Get off my lawn!"

20:45 Responded to call about domestic dispute on N 52nd Street. Upon entry to apartment, I was attacked by a vicious Pit Bull. Said Pit Bull was subdued with flashlight and restrained with paw-cuffs. Occupant then attempted to fence obviously stolen fake Jewelry to this patrolman. Said Jewelry was confiscated as evidence.

21:03 Observed Male age approximately 45 with four mechanical arms ascend to top of St. Joseph's Hospital patient tower. Perpetrator then demanded that control of the UN be turned over to him or he would destroy the Universe. Call placed to Police. Police asked us to please stop calling them. Perpetrator was dispatched with rocket launcher from trunk of Patrol Vehicle.

21:40 Responded to call reporting interdimensional rift in the 3400 block of N 57th Street. Upon arrival, patrol did observe multiple demons, imps and other Hell-spawn emerging from said rift, and using shotguns--

Mrs. Balabusta: What are you doing?

PT: Huh?

Mrs. Balabusta: What are you doing here?

PT: I'm giving a report of our activities last night.

Mrs. Balabusta: Are you joking? Doctor Octopus? You blew up Doctor Octopus with a rocket launcher?? Do you seriously expect people to believe this?

PT: Hey, it was a rough night last night! It's dangerous patrolling the streets at night! Why, did you know that at one point we had to face off against six gang members with AK-47s?? Would you believe it? Six gang members with AK-47s!

Mrs. Balabusta: I find that rather difficult to believe.

PT: Really? Would you believe three kids with slingshots?

Mrs. Balabusta: No.

PT: How about a cat with a bad attitude?

Mrs. Balabusta: I don't think so.

PT: Oh...well...what really happened is that we drove around for two hours and looked at a lot of snow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Blogrolling Updates are back with a Vengeance

I just checked this site and noticed that all the blogs on my blogroll are marked as "updated", even the ones that died months ago.

If you didn't notice that the updates were missing, never mind, go back to sleep. If you tried to follow Trep's convoluted method of bringing attention to yourself, you can now relax. Until it breaks again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Family Friendly

I don't think it would be giving away any secrets to tell you that Mrs. B has a thing for mindless action movies. The sound you are now hearing is the collective thud of all the jaws of the married men out there hitting the floor. How did you do it, they are all saying, catch a woman who is not only an aerobics instructor, but who likes mindless action flicks?? Two words, my friends: Bass. Guitar. Go and learn.

Anyway, so while it is no secret that she goes for this genre, it may be less well-known that she has a special place in her heart for Jason Statham. It's easy to see why she likes the bald, built, British bloke. He's fun to watch, and even guys can enjoy his films without feeling too threatened. He's had supporting parts in a number of films, but first really grabbed our attention with The Transporter, easily one of Mrs. B's favorite films. Personally, I think the best part of that picture is the awesome soundtrack by Stanley Clarke, which can best be described as two parts bass and one part car horn.

So when we heard that Statham's latest movie, Crank, was coming out on DVD, it was a no-brainer. She returned from one of her aerobics classes with DVD in hand, having passed Blockbuster on the way home. Of course, we knew absolutely nothing about the film. But what was there to know? It's Jason Statham! The guy just has to stand still and strike that Bruce Lee pose, and everybody has a good time!

And the DVD case certainly wasn't going to give anything away. Nope, try as we might, we could get absolutely no idea of what the movie was about by looking at or reading the box. Fair enough. What did grab Mrs. B's attention was the very prominent notation that this DVD featured a "Family-Friendly Audio Mode."

Now, take a few moments, and imagine exactly what that could mean.

When we got our first DVD player, way back in 1999, and brought home our first DVD, and saw that it was capable of offering a choice of soundtracks, offering the ability to have different scenes, even different cuts of a film on one disk, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Finally, I thought. I can have the option to watch a kid-friendly version of some of my favorite films!

Because there are tons of great movies out there that would be fine to watch when the kids are up, except for the peppering of four-letter words, or the five-second obligatory topless scene, that basically relegates the film to be hidden away somewhere and watched only after the kids are safely tucked into bed. Which works when the kids are small. The problem is, kids get bigger. And they stay up later. And pretty soon there's no time to watch a film with naughty words that kids might blunder into.

So I said to Mrs. B, Wow, wouldn't it be great if they used this new DVD technology for goodness, to offer us a choice to watch a safe-for-TV version of our favorite films (and of course, leave the regular version intact for late-night goodness)? But they did not. Instead, they used it for rottenness. To give us our choice of different Stereo configurations, Spanish, French, or even worse, a bunch of commentaries from the second assistant gaffer for those evenings when we had trouble falling asleep on our own. (Actually, I like the commentaries). But in 9 years of DVD releases I had yet to see a movie come out that allowed parents to watch it in the living room without fear.

Until now, when Crank came out with its "Family-Friendly Audio Mode." Why, I almost did a little dance when she read this to me. I can't believe somebody listened! I was so excited.

So, we went down to the basement to watch the flick on the HDTV. This really is a nice DVD to show off your new set. However, family mode or not, this is not a nice DVD to show to your family.

I can only conclude that "Family-Friendly Audio Mode" was offered up as some kind of weird, inside joke. Actually, it's pretty funny, when you think about it. It's funny to have a soundtrack where they replace all the F-bombs (which make up...oh...60 percent of all the words in the script) with variations of the word "freak" and replace sh*t (that's the other 40 percent there) with "stuff", as in "Yo, man, that freakin' stuff ain't free," while at the same time leaving in the graphic violence (a hand gets chopped off by a meat cleaver, for example), scenes of drug use (actually, drug use is seen as very positive in terms of propelling the plot), nudity, and several sex scenes.

It really lends new meaning to the term "Family-Friendly." Maybe if your family is the Mansons. Fortunately, Mrs. B and I were fairly unfriendly to our children in that we kicked them out of the basement before watching this thing. Thank goodness for that.

I still hold out hope for the whole "Family-Friendly" viewing experience. I would like to see more (appropriate) films get the treatment. There are, as I said, plenty of films that would be just fine if a scene or two could be skipped, and a few words replaced. Better yet, and this may be a revolutionary thought, maybe just omit those parts altogether when making the film, since in my experience, they add nothing to its enjoyment, just jack up the rating.

Oh, and Mr. Statham...you can do better than this.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Who's Scruffy Looking?

I'm in kind of a funky mood today so I've decided that I'm going to post all comments as lines from Star Wars.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Here's What Happened

MonkRealizing that the Shlomo Katz show is little over a week away, I asked Mrs. Balabusta to bring the CD of his music which I had made in from the car after her aerobics class so that I could start to learn the material.

I then sat down on the blue chair in the living room and proceeded to play Xenosaga III on the Playstation 2 with Iguana sitting on the floor to my left, and The PT on my lap.

Shortly thereafter, Fudge suddenly appeared, and saying "Here ya go," tossed a CD and a jewel case at me as I stared intently at the TV. She then rushed out of the house.

I noted that the CD was a little wet, but immediately placed it into the jewel case for its own protection and put it down...somewhere.

I finished playing the game, then went downstairs to work on some of the video from the Young Israel gig. Following this, I got on my exercise bike (with my new tushy cushion) and watched something that I'm too embarrassed to mention here on the new TV with The PT and Iguana sitting nearby. Curly came down about halfway through.

After the workout, I went back to the computer to work on some more video. Finally, I decided to get to work on the Shlomo Katz music. I looked down at the computer desk.

It wasn't there.

I looked around the room. I didn't see it. I looked on the bed next to the bike. Nope.

I went back upstairs. I searched the living room. I could not find it. I stuck my hands between the cushions of the chair, but did not feel it.

I spent about an hour retracing my steps for the entire evening. I questioned everybody. I enlisted Fudge (now back from aerobics) in my search. She helped, although she did give me that look that seemed to say, "oh...brother...I thought he was too young for dementia."

I mentally, verbally, and physically went over everything I had done since Fudge had tossed me the CD. Let's see...controller in hand...did I put the CD on the floor? Did I get up and put it on a shelf? Did the PT toss it at Iguana (they were throwing something around in my peripheral vision, I think), did Iguana move it when she moved the stool to get the Cars DVD off the shelf to show The PT? Hey, why isn't this Get Smart DVD in its case. Darn KIDS! Can't they ever put anything away?? Look, the DVD case is RIGHT HERE! How much effort would it have taken to open it up and put the DVD in? See, this is how DVDs get scratched up. Or lost. I bet she dropped it here behind the stereo. Let me turn the light on and look. Rats, someone unplugged the lamp behind the stereo. I can't reach the plug without moving everything. Who would do such a thing?? Have you ever heard of this? Unplugging a lamp behind a stereo, so that if you try to turn it on, it doesn't go on, and then you're scratching your head, "why doesn't it go on?" and then you think, well maybe the bulb is out, and you look all over the house for a new bulb, and it's 100 watts but that's all you can find, and then you screw it in, but it still doesn't work, and that's when you realize the lamp is unplugged, and why didn't they just plug it back in? What kind of crazy people live in this house??

This was getting too much for me, I was starting to talk like my mother, so I decided to go downstairs and grab a Klondike Bar out of the freezer. On my way I searched again near the bike, under the bike, under the cushy tushy, but no luck.

I slept fitfully last night. I searched again this morning.


Mr. Monk, where are you when I need you??

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Davening Etiquette

From the perspective of this Shliach Tzibur:

1. Keep it down. It's nice to shrei and yell and daven real loud, but pipe down once the Shliach Tzibur (the guy leading the service) starts to say his part. No Chazan should have to yell and scream over the cacophony to be heard. It's just plain rude to keep yelling out your personal davening at the expense of the tzibur. Especially if you are several prayers behind.

2. Make a designated "Emes". Every minyan should assign one person to be the last "Emes" at the end of the Shma. Ideally, this should be the Rabbi of that congregation. Nobody needs to be frummer than the Rabbi. When he says his Emes, then the Chazan can say his and the service should proceed. There is no need for the competition to be the last one. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who shleps out their kriyas shma in an attempt to be "the last man standing" is just being chutzpadik to the Rav. If you really are that slow, that's fine; there's nothing wrong with it. Just keep it to yourself and don't try to be louder than everyone else. And if you're one of those guys who puts in a 30 second pause between Shma and Ve'ahavta (yes, I've been counting) in order to artificially prolong your prayer, then it's MY time that you're wasting there, and I will not be waiting for YOU to finish.

3. Synchronize your Kaddish. Maybe it's my musical background, but I really do think that it's possible to both say Kaddish aloud and listen to the other mourners at the same time so that you say Kaddish together. Nothing irritates me more than one guy who tries to go much faster than everyone else (maybe so he can get all the Amens for himself) or somebody who goes deliberately slower than the rest. Say it rhythmically and together. If you can't hear what the other guys are doing, go stand closer to one of them. And if you're that guy who just can't keep a beat, slowing down and speeding up and putting in bizarre, awkward pauses (imagine William Shatner saying Kaddish), then for goodness sake try to be quiet at least!

That is all.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Why Do You Hate Me?

Dear Psychotoddler,

Why do you hate me? What have I ever done to you to deserve the treatment you have given me?

You continuously insult me. You deride me in front of your friends. You refer to me as a "crapmobile." You are constantly threatening to replace me. You tell almost everyone you meet that the only reason you haven't dumped me yet is because you have to pay for your kids' tuition.

You go to Auto Shows and drool over sleek, sexy new vehicles. That's bad enough. But do you have drive me to the show?? Can't you take Mrs. Balabusta's fancy shmancy new minivan? Can't you see how hurtful that is to me?

You neglect me and only change my oil when the dashboard light goes on. Speaking of which, do you ever intend to fix that dome light? You leave me exposed and vulnerable in parking lots where vandals can break into me. Have you ever even considered buying an alarm for me? The only time you've put any effort into improving me was when your dashboard got broken into and your precious radio was stolen. THAT got your attention.

Look, I'm grateful that you replaced your driver's side seatbelt finally, after it wouldn't retract anymore. And thank you for the new tires. What has it been, seven years since the last set? Maybe if you rotated them every once in a while they wouldn't go bald and tractionless in the snow.

Yes, the tires were nice, but that doesn't excuse you from taking that cross-country detour last weekend. That was UNCALLED for! And going 80 on those bumpy roads! You're lucky I didn't shake apart altogether! The tires were new, but the suspension sure wasn't. Oh, and thanks for breaking the rear-view mirror while you were at it!

And then---hooo boy---this trumps everything. You let your KIDS drive me! You even let them "practice" on me. Would you let your kids "practice" on your worst enemy? I doubt it. And yet, you even let your daughter (aptly named, that one) take me for a drive to library last night--and she returned without one of the side mirrors!

So I ask again, what have I ever done to deserve this?

Have I not faithfully served you, driven you to and from work, entertained you on the way, for the past 13 years?

Have I not given you more than 100,000 miles of smooth service?

Have I not cooled you when it was hot, and heated you in the cold?

Have I ever refused to start (except for those times when the batteries died)?

Have I ever stalled on you in the middle of a busy intersection?

Have you ever seen or heard pieces of me randomly fall off as you drove along?

Why do you hate me?

Your long-suffering but faithful car,


Monday, January 01, 2007

Chicago Acoustic Appearance

From: David Margulis
Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 4:43 PM
Subject: Mark and Adam -- please forward to your e-mail list,
Thanks, David


Young Israel of West Rogers Parkpresents


the acoustic guitar and mandolin sounds of

Moshe Skier and Adam Margolis

Carlebach, Chasidic, and more!

w/special guest Bryan Edgar on clarinet and sax!

Bring friends and family!
FREE ice cream FREE drinks FREE chips
Pizza available for purchase

January 6th at 8:00 PM
2706 W. Touhy Ave.
$10 donation requested

Go to www.mosheskier.com/perk.htm for a preview of what's in store