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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summerfest 2007!

Mark your calendars!

The Band is playing Summerfest again this year, July 1st (Sunday!) at 3 pm on the Classic Rock stage. This year, we open for George Thorogood! (DadaDA Dada-DUH)

Here's a little behind the scenes backstage footage from last year, when we opened for Foreigner:



And if you want to see more, check here.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

All the Options

Car Salesman: Can I show you anything?

Psychotoddler: Uh, yeah. I was wondering if this car comes with one of those jacks to plug in an MP3 player?

Salesman: This one? Um…yes. Yes it does. Standard on this model.

PT: What about one of those voice-activated GPS navigation systems?

Salesman: Yes, that’s available. It’s optional.

Mrs. Balabusta: Not for my husband, it isn’t.

Salesman: Oh?

Mrs. B: He needs toys.

PT: Yes, toys.

Salesman: I see. You might want to look at this model over here. It’s the MLC trim level.

Mrs. B: MLC?

Salesman: Mid-Life-Crisis. Very popular with our 40-something buyers.

PT: Yeahyeah, let’s go.

Salesman: Ma'am, you might like to sit in the back.

PT: (in car) Wow…there sure are a lot of buttons…

Mrs. B: Is this a car or a Space Shuttle?

Salesman: You can take her out for a little cruise, if you’d like.

PT: Yeahyeah, me like.

Mrs. B: Did you get clearance from the tower for takeoff?

PT: Man, look at this radio…and the climate control…

Salesman: Yes, this model has all the options.

PT: What does this button do?

Salesman: Try it.

PT: What the---HOLY CR—there’s a woman in the seat next to me!

Salesman: Yes, that’s our “Auto Trophy-Wife” feature. Very popular with the 40- and 50-something buyers.

Mrs. B: “Auto Trophy-Wife”??

Salesman: That’s right. It seems a lot of our buyers felt that it wouldn’t be worthwhile to get the upgraded car if they didn’t have a hot woman to go along with it—no offense meant, Ma'am.

PT: She—it—sure looks real.

Salesman: Our technicians put a great deal of work into making her as realistic as possible. After-all, who wants to be seen driving around with what looks like a blow-up doll.

PT: Not me.

Auto Trophy-Wife: It’s too cold in here! Turn off the air conditioning!

PT: Uhh…

ATW: Ugh! What are you LISTENING to?? Turn it to the Top 40 station!

PT: What’s going on?

Salesman: Hmm…well, the Auto Trophy-Wife is a new feature…

ATW: You’re going TOO FAST! You’re going to get a ticket!

PT: Hey, I’m not liking this!

Salesman: It’s possible that in their attempts to make her as realistic as possible…

ATW: You missed the turn back there! Do you EVEN KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING??

Salesman: …that they may have gone a little TOO far…

ATW: How close do you plan to get to THAT CAR....Did you remember to lock the front door....You need to pick up some milk...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

iPod, Therefore I Am

Well, I finally broke down and bought myself an iPod. I've said for years that I didn't need one, couldn't use one. I only listen to music in the car. Blah blah blah. Well, I'm getting a car with an auxiliary jack, and so now I have a sudden urgent need to take 8 gigabytes worth of MP3s wherever I go. The thought being that it will be more convenient than sifting through a bunch of MP3-CDs.

Yeah.

So a couple of initial thoughts (mind you, I used Macs back in the 80's and 90's but switched to PCs for the games):

It's nice looking.

It sounds nice.

It's lightweight (30 gig version).

I don't like ear-buds. I can't get them to sit straight and I keep losing the bass frequencies. That won't be an issue when it's plugged into the car, though.

ITunes is a pain in the butt to use. Why can't I just organize my albums by dropping songs into folders and/or batch-renaming them according to artist/album? Why does it take 30 seconds to add an artist name to a song? Am I missing something?

I am, so far, NOT a big fan of the touch-wheel thingie. I had to go online to figure out why I couldn't make this thing work (because, like, there are no instructions included), and even then, I needed to watch a Quicktime(TM) Video to figure it out (now I have QuickTime, ho ho ho).

It turns out I'm NOT supposed to click "up" on the wheel to scroll up, or "right" to proceed to the next menu (as with, let's say, cell phones, PDAs, and just about every other piece of modern electronics equipped with a round pad and a central "enter" button). No, I'm supposed to "lightly" feel my way around the wheel withOUT pressing it. Because the pressing causes something completely unintuitive to occur. Also, although I have managed to get the hang of navigating around with this thing, it's still hard to be precise with it, and I'm concerned about constantly overshooting my target and going back and forth as I drive my car. Which may leave me unable to switch albums, songs, modes, etc as I drive.

Overall, from the packaging to the absent documentation, Apple seems more concerned with style than substance.

But I'm only on Day 1.

The Magical Mystery Blogger

Roll Up! Roll Up for the Mystery Blog!

Guess which one is me!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Planet Xiphoid

Hello. This is Doctor Bean. Psychotoddler has kindly allowed me to share a guest post with you, his dear readers.

About a dozen times throughout my career patients have come to me worried about their xiphoid process. The following is a fictionalized amalgam of those encounters.

Mr. Jones: Good to see you Doctor Bean.

Me: Nice to see you too, Mr. Jones. What brings you in today?

Mr. Jones: I noticed a lump on my chest two weeks ago and it hasn’t gone away. I’m worried it’s a tumor.

Me: Oh. Well I’m glad you came in to get it checked out. Does the lump hurt?

Mr. Jones: No.

Me: And has it gotten bigger since you first noticed it?

Mr. Jones: I don’t think so, but I’m not sure.

Me: Where is it?

[Mr. Jones points to the bottom of his chest in the midline.]

Me: [Thinking: Good Lord! Not another one.] Alright. Take your shirt off and let me take a look. [Palpating with my right hand.] Is that it, right there?

Mr. Jones: Yeah! That’s it. Is it serious?

Me: No. That’s your xiphoid process. It’s a pointy tip at the end of your sternum.

Mr. Jones: Oh, no! Do I need surgery?

Me: No. It’s fine. You don’t need anything.

Mr. Jones: Is it normal?

Me: It’s not just normal. It’s universal. Everybody’s got one. It’s standard anatomy.

Mr. Jones: Weird how I just got mine two weeks ago.

Me: No. It’s always been there. It’s part of your skeleton. You’ve had it all your life.

Mr. Jones: So why did I just notice it two weeks ago?

Me: What do you mean?

Mr. Jones: I mean if it’s always been there how come I didn’t notice it all this time?

Me: Wait a second. You came here worried that you had cancer. I reassured you that you’re healthy. But now you’re saying that that’s not satisfactory and you also need me to sort out why it’s taken you 42 years to stumble across an irrelevant protuberance of your normal anatomy? I really don’t know.

Mr. Jones: So you’re saying I shouldn’t worry about it.

Me: Right!

Mr. Jones: What if it gets bigger?

Me: It’s cartilage. It can’t get bigger.

Mr. Jones: Should I keep an eye on it?

Me: You mean just in case it gets bigger?

Mr. Jones: Yeah.

Me: No.

Mr. Jones: Can I call you if it changes?

Me: Have you ever suppressed even the most fleeting desire to call me?

Mr. Jones: Tom, my buddy at work, never mentioned feeling a lump there.

Me: Hmmm. I wonder why he’s holding out on you. [Sprinting from the examination room.] Well, take care. I’ll see you soon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lag BaOmer in Madison

Just a few pictures from our gig on Sunday playing for the Madison Kollel at the University of Wisconsin.






I don't even want to talk about how lost we got on the way to this gig. My next car WILL have GPS.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yahrtzeit

Tonight is the first Yahrtzeit for my father, Of Blessed Memory. I will once again be leading the service and reciting the kaddish. Sunday, I'm taking Moe to New York to meet up with Fudge and my mother and sisters and visiting the cemetery for the unveiling. And Chinese food.

I thought I'd have something more profound to say at this point, but real life is busy for me now and I'm just not finding the time to put my thoughts together. In the meantime, feel free to peruse the many posts I've written about my mourning experience.

I would like to respond to an email I got recently from Neil Harris asking me to expand on how blogging has actually gotten me closer to my community. I think for many bloggers, the exposure to so many diverse points of view and so many skeptical posts has had a negative effect. They've questioned their faith and their practices and become turned off, or bitter, or both. I must admit that early on I used this blog to vent to the two or three people who read it and left comments.

However, after the venting was done, I really began to reassess my relationship with Judaism and frumkeit in general. I realized that, bitter as I might be at times, my arguments, once laid out clearly and precisely, really held very little water. I was, shall we say, immature. I wanted this or that, and I just needed to stamp my feet a little. And then I realized that maybe I didn't really need everything I wanted.

Maybe there was a way for me to still be me and yet be a better Jew. Sure, I met my share of heretics and skeptics in the blogosphere. But I also met many inspiring people. People who had many of the same excuses and yet overcame them. People who had quite a bit less than me and yet were happy. People who, surprisingly, were willing to listen to and even laugh at my little tantrums, and in the end say it was OK, and who left me feeling petty and selfish. And that's really the best kind of mussar.

So the blog for me has become more of a support group. And like other groups, it works because it creates a sense of accountability. I know that I have some friends (and some detractors) who pay attention to me. And if I say I'm going to do something, they will be watching to see if I do it. And so for that reason alone, I have benefited greatly from blogging.

I honestly don't know if I would have been able to say kaddish for a year, and not miss a day, were it not for this blog. Prior to PT, I had very low expectations for myself, and a perception (right or wrong, who knows?) that my community had a similarly low opinion of me. And I would not have risen to the task for them. But I did for all of you.

Thanks for keeping an eye on me, and please keep Eliezer Aryeh ben Yaakov Ber in mind tonight.

Workout DVD #3: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

OK, now that's more like it. This one is much more a spiritual successor to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" than "Temple of Doom" was. I never thought I'd be happy to see Nazis again. I don't claim to be an expert in East Indian Cults, but that last movie seemed to have virtually no basis in reality and was completely unbelievable. Voodoo Dolls? Aren't they related to New Orleans Voodoo? Anyway.

Aside from a better plot, more interesting locales, more archeology based on well-known myths, and much fewer gross-out moments (and Nazis who meet their just end), this movie has one other major thing going for it:

Sean Connery.

The interaction between Connery and Harrison Ford is so delicious in this movie that it makes me sad that the two didn't team up for more buddy flicks down the road. Now, according to my calculations, in 1989 Connery was 59, but he seems much older than he does in later movies (or even now), and it has to do with this being one of his last films without a toupee.

Yep, it's all Sean, in the flesh. No artificial head-pieces. And you have to commend him really for that. I've read interviews with him where he makes it plain that he would have been happy doing all of his movies with a naked head. But for many of his early films (all the Bond ones) and much of his more recent work he's worn hair pieces. Some more successful than others. I think he looked magnificent in "The Hunt for Red October," but more Howard Cosell in "Never Say Never Again".

So, it seems like the tradition for these posts is that I open the comments up to specific topics. This one will be:

Toupee or Not to Toupee, that is the Question: (Thanks, Shifra!)

Give specific examples

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Workout DVD #2: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Verdict: Not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

More like “Indiana Jones: The Ride” or “Fear Factor: India”.

The first movie had a great story, great characters, lots of action (but nothing over the top), and locations which, while clearly “Hollywoodized”, had some air of authenticity to them. The second movie, not so much.

Spielberg and Lucas were clearly in the mindset of “more is better” when they made this one. Everything was more intense, more gross, more ridiculous.

This was made around the same time as “Return of the Jedi,” and you can clearly see that George Lucas has begun his descent towards the Dark Side, with stupid, slapstick stunts that lengthen the movie but add nothing to the story (and make little sense in context), and of course, lots of little Ewoks children who manage to defeat the evil Stormtroopers Nazis Cultists.

Most sequels fail to be as good as the original blockbusters. They tend to fall into two categories: retreads of the original (only more!), or completely different stories that leave you scratching your head. I can think of a few that are actually better than the original:

The Empire Strikes Back: Most people feel this was simply a better film than Star Wars, and in many ways it was superior, but really it was a different kind of movie.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: It wouldn’t be hard to surpass the snoozefest that was Star Trek: The Motion Picture (although I liked it for purely geeky reasons), but this was actually a great flick. It had action, it had camp, and it had one of my top ten film lines of all time, “Khaaaaaaaaaannnnn!!!!!"

A Shot in the Dark: Very funny sequel to the only wryly humorous original, which of course you all know and don’t need me to name. Also, the only film in the series without the words “The Pink Panther” in the title, probably explaining its relative obscurity.

I'm opening up the comments for your choice of 3 categories:

1. Sequels that were much better than the originals

2. Sequels that were much worse than the originals (not just disappointments)

3. Classic movies that should have had sequels which were never made