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Monday, December 29, 2008

Chicago Gig this Weekend

The Band is playing at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park on

Saturday Night, January 3rd at 8:30 PM sharp!

We'll have the new CDs there for sale!

Hope to see some of you (say hi if you're a blogger)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Third Annual Christmahannukawanzaakah Concert

And my third annual entry into this noble enterprise is a new song I recorded over the weekend for Channukah. Go visit!

(Look for "Mi Yimalel")

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Album is Done!



After months of work, The Band's new album is finally done!

It can be ordered online here.

You'll find all-new recordings of these songs:


1. Shoshanas Yaakov- yes, MSB's signature song (an early version was featured on 2007's Muqata Radio Purim Podcast), this is an original composition influenced heavily by Rush, Clapton, and Ringo Starr. How is this possible? Buy the album and find out! Described by Yitzchak Halevi as "maybe the best Jewish rock tune I have heard to date. That, Let It Rain feel. Great guitar sound...killer bass line to boot."

2. Amar Hashem- Another MSB original, an acoustic strummer with layers of lush guitar work, violin and mandolin, and a polyrhythm out of Led Zeppelin.

3. Light Up- A cover of the Himmelman/Broza Channukah song (our live video was featured in 2007's Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert hosted by our friend Neil Kramer). Current version with a kinda Southern Rock feel crossed with some funk.

4. Hashkivenu- A song I wrote with a peaceful, easy feeling. Cross between The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, with a little Jerry Garcia somewhere in there.

5. Jonah- Our cover of Shlock Rock's parody of Brian Setzer's cover of Lou Prima's song. 'Nuff said.

6. Baruch Hashem- Reggae, mon. This was one of the earliest Jewish Reggae songs, originally released on Shlock Rock's Lenny and the Shlockers. This version features the original, Police-themed riff that I wrote for the song.

7. Tzama- We've been playing this song for a while now, and it's about time it got recorded right! A Joe Walsh-like blues take on the traditional Chabad tune. As a Blogging aside, veteran blogger Velvel's review of the Chicago show where we played this led to my becoming the blogger I am today. Or at least the one I was a few years ago.

8. Aniyah- And speaking of this blog, if you've been reading it for a while, you no doubt remember the acoustic version of this song when I wrote it just after Hurricane Katrina. Well, we've rerecorded it, and all I can say is, you're in for a BIG SURPRISE.

9. Im Ain Ani- A little Texas Blues, inspired by the late great Stevie Ray Vaghan.

10. Nachamu- The Carlebach song is tucked nicely into this slow blues tune that has a Pink Floyd feel to it.

Plus bonus versions of songs we recorded in the past:

11. Horeini- a walking bassline a la the Pretender's "Back to Ohio" forms the backbone of this song about walking in the path of Hashem.

12. Ki Vo Yismach- Probably the one song on the album that's not from our live act, and is sung by our former keyboard player, but I love the arrangement so much that I had to include it. The violin part is absolutely beautiful. Completely remastered for this release.

13. Mizmor Ledovid/Freeway- This one is a favorite at shows, and we've been known to sneak all kinds of classic rock riffs into it. Enjoy the remastered original (the arrangement is based on Menachem Herman's version from Metallish, and is used with his permission).

MAKES FOR A GREAT CHANNUKAH GIFT

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??

Oh, and

THIS ALBUM IS NOT AVAILABLE IN ANY STORES!!

ACT NOW!!

LIMITED QUANTITIES AVAILABLE!!

THE FIRST 250 PEOPLE TO ORDER WILL ACTUALLY GET AN ALBUM!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brutal Honesty

I'm on my bike, watching my 30 minute allotment of Master and Commander that my wife picked up for under $5 on Black Friday. On the comfy chair is Iguana, and on the floor rocker is The PT, covered in an Afghan.

We're enjoying the picture, commenting on the 19th Century clothing, the peculiar speech, and the Naval procedings going on on screen. The PT is asking good questions and making (for her) appropriate comments.

My bike beeps, and I turn off the movie.

ME: OK, guys, we have to stop for now. We'll finish the movie tomorrow.

The PT: Nope.

ME: What?

The PT: NOPE.

ME: Don't you want to finish movie tomorrow?

The PT: NOPE.

ME: Why not? I thought you liked it.

The PT: I don't. I was just watching because there was nothing else to do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Reports of My Blog's Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Be careful what you wish for.

Behold!

I am emerging from my Dungeon where I have been immersed for the past 4 months in various non-Blogging and a few non-Bloggable activities.

Yes, I hear your taunting and your whining.

Where are you, PT?

Write up some more goofy The PT stories!

We need advice on raising our infants/toddlers/teenagers!!

We want more Cro-Magnon Man!

Complain about your shul!

Well TOO FREAKIN' BADDDDDD!!!

It is NOT my job to entertain you, and cause coffee to spray from your nose, and make you feel better about your kids because they can spell correctly and don't say "Holy Crap" all day long and write opuses about Sailor Moon!!

Where am I??  I'm in freakin' Wisconsin!!  That's where I am!  That's where I've been this whole time!  I work for a living!  I (occasionally) go to shul and kollel and do laundry and get involved in snow-related traffic catastrophes!

More The PT stories?  There is no shortage of The PT stories in the blogosphere, believe-you-me!  Look at all my kids blogs and you'll never have to worry about a coffee-free nose again.  Besides, she's seven now and she can probably just write her own stories.

You want my advice about child rearing?  Well, you're SOL, my friend!  Raising kids is a lot like playing Poker.  Especially teenagers.  And my kids read this blog.  So to strain the metaphor even further, telling you how to raise your teenagers would be like playing Poker while showing everyone your hand.  So forget it!  You're on your own!  Lotsa luck with that!

Miss Cro Magnon Man?  Well, my wife sure doesn't. Cro Magnon Man is a bear to live with and he stinks up the bathroom, to boot.  I think we're all much happier that that cranky coot has up and left.  Besides, Rock Star Dude is much more fun.

You want me to complain about my shul?  I got a better idea!  Go complain about your OWN shul!  What, you think my issues are unique?  Go spend every morning at the crack of dawn with a bunch of bleary-eyed, yawning guys who are late for work and see how much you enjoy minyan.


So, does that mean this blog is DEAD?

Hardly.

I'm going to use it to discuss....












....my MUSIC!!

WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE!

Where do you think YOU'RE going??

You think I don't know what goes on around here?

I make fun of my kids or my shul and you guys are smiling and laughing and slapping my back and all best friends and you-da-man-PT, but as soon as I mention my music it's all crickets!

Well, I'm a musician.  Period.  I've been a musician much longer than I've been a doctor, or a father, or a husband, or a kvetchy shliach tzibur.  And I'm going to be a musician until the day I die.  I'm going to be that guy in the nursing home who drags people into my room to listen to my MP3s, when everyone else has moved on to direct auditory cortex stimulators, the guy who keeps pining for the old days of Punk and Alternative Rock when everyone else is listening to weird atonic electronic bleeps in their flying cars.

You guys can take it or leave it.  You're all a bunch of cheapskates, any way.  You want to know how many bloggers bought my last two albums?? (Yeah you see them right there in the side bar)??

One.

But to be fair, she bought it a few times.

But still.



The truth is I've found a good outlet for my creative energies, and I'm getting ready to release what is probably the best album I've ever recorded, and I'm very proud of what I and my band mates have created.

So if you're interested in being a part of it, stick around.

If not, I'm sure I'll run into you in the nursing home one day.  

Oh and if you feel a stalkerish need to follow my every move, you can look me up on facebook.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Help Save Baby Gili

I usually don't take requests but this appeal from a fellow blogger is legitimate and is a worthy cause.

In early August 2008, Baby Gili Rossler was born in Israel with a rare
tracheal problem, a life-threatening situation that causes severe tracheal
constriction -- and only one lung.The combination of these two conditions is
extremely dangerous and causes a constant deterioration in her ability to
breathe and to the supply of oxygen to her body.

Her Israeli doctors gave her parents the horrible news that little Baby
Gili had no chance to survive.

A surgical procedure has been recently developed for the treatment of this
condition.Only two medical centers in the world have experience in the
performance of this procedure:One in London (where three procedures were
performed with a 70% success rate) and one in Chicago (ten procedures with an
80% success rate).

Under the instructions of the treating physician Dr. Tommy M. Schonfeld,
Director of Pediatric ICU, Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, the
procedure must be performed urgently!

The cost of this procedure, is prohibitive and only half is covered by
Israeli medical insurance, not to mention the necessary ambulatory
flights...


See here for more info and updates. Please help if you can!

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Version of "Shoshanas Yaakov" on Myspace

Yes, you read it right--it's Purim in Elul!

Seriously, The Band is working on a new album, and I'm too excited about the progress not to leak a little to the public.

So there's a new "rough mix*" of Shoshanas Yaakov (MSB's "signature" song, if you will) up on the Myspace page, where you can listen all you want.

http://www.myspace.com/mosheskierband

Let me know what you think!

Sunday is a mega-drum recording session for me.

WARNING: This music is NOT KOSHER. It features guitar, "bendy notes", and improper use of bass. However, boruch Hashem, there is no "Devil's flute" or "2/4" beat.


*a "rough mix" is a quick mix of music tracks usually done after a recording session to give the producer something to listen to. I aways thought it would make a great album title.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Take on the Latest Music Ban

Now the king told the boogie men
You have to let that raga drop
The oil down the desert way
Has been shakin to the top

The sheik he drove his cadillac
He went a cruisin down the ville
The muezzin was a standing
On the radiator grille

The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah
The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah

By order of the prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy casbah sound

But the bedouin they brought out
The electric camel drum
The local guitar picker
Got his guitar picking thumb
As soon as the shareef
Had cleared the square
They began to wail

Now over at the temple
Oh! they really pack em in
The in crowd say its cool
To dig this chanting thing
But as the wind changed direction
The temple band took five
The crowd caught a wiff
Of that crazy casbah jive

The king called up his jet fighters
He said you better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Down the casbah way

As soon as the shareef was
Chauffeured outta there
The jet pilots tuned to
The cockpit radio blare
As soon as the shareef was
Outta their hair
The jet pilots wailed

The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah
The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah

He thinks its not kosher
Fundamentally he cant take it.
You know he really hates it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nachamu

Here's the new song from MSB! Right-click and choose "save target as" to save it to your computer and load it into an MP3 player or burn it to disk. Or listen to it directly by left-clicking.

Nachamu

Incoming Music!


The three weeks are over, and that can mean only one thing! Psychotoddler is going to be busy referring to himself in the third person and recording music!


Yes, PT has been feverishly working 'round the clock to bring you a new song just in time for Shabbos Nachamu, entitled, er, Nachamu. It will be a reworking of the Shlomo Carlebach song done in PT's own inimitable style. Or at least in someone's inimitable style. Or...imitable style. Whatever! Hint: If you like Pink Floyd, you'll probably get a kick out of this.


All this investment of money and time into Apple products and Pro Tools will pay off in the next 24 hours, so stay tuned to this blog and get your mp3 players ready!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

iPhone 3G First Impressions



No bars.

That’s my initial impression of the iPhone 3G. I have no bars in my South Side office. None. Nada. Occasionally one. Once in a while, the 3G icon lights up to taunt me into thinking I can pick up my email or watch that YouTube video. But then just as quickly it drops to Edge, and soon after gives up altogether.

Those of you who’ve been following my relentless assimilation to all-things-Mac over the past year will probably be alternatively relieved/irritated that I haven’t fully imbibed the Kool-Aide. Yes, my household has become progressively Apple-ified. I have a new iMac, my daughter (at some urging from myself) spent probably twice the price of a new PC on a mid-level Macbook, 4 of my kids now own iPods of some sort, and my wife has two. And now, the iPhone.

I’ll paraphrase my friend, who on Facebook wrote something like, “My iPhone is great for everything except making and receiving phone calls.” That about sums it up. You can review the criteria I had for this thing when I was agonizing over a new smart phone. I didn’t really mention the ability to make or receive phone calls because I thought that would be implicit in the definition of a smart PHONE. You know, something that you use to make PHONE CALLS. Sadly, I’m not sure the iPhone should be classified as such a device yet.

I thought initially that the problem was just unique to my building. I’ve had less than optimal reception down here. But generally, I have been able to get calls. Mostly from my mother, who has a knack for calling me whenever I’m in the room with a patient. Usually doing something that shouldn’t really be interrupted by a personal phone call. I’ll give you an example:

ME: OK, Mr. Smith, if you’ll assume the position, we can get down to the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Mr. Smith: Doc, I really hate this part.

ME: You and me both.

BUUUUUZZZZZZ

ME: Er.

Mr. Smith: You need to get that, Doc?

ME: Well…probably I should…it’s my mother.

Mr. Smith: Hey, no problem, go talk to your mom. I can wait.

ME: Ma? Yeah. I’m fine. FINE. FIIIINNE! Yes. I’m good. I can’t talk. I CAN’T TALK. I’ll call you back. Yeah. OK. Yeah. OK. Yeah, g’bye.

The truth is I make it a point to answer my mom’s phone calls because I’m always worried she’s calling to tell me someone has died. Also because if she can’t get in touch with me, she assumes that I died.

So it was in this light that I decided to preemptively contact her to give her my new phone number. Yeah, I know, I could have ported my old number. But for some reason it wasn’t working, and as I stood around in the middle of the mall at the AT&T booth for over an hour trying to figure out who to call to release my 14 year old mobile number, I just gave up. So I called my mom one morning to give her the new number. It was not pretty.

ME: Ma?

Mom: WHAT??

ME: Ma? It’s me, Mark.

Mom: WHAT??

ME: Can you hear me?

Mom: WHAT?? WHO IS THIS??

ME: Mark. MARK!

Mom: Markileh, is that you?

ME: YES!! I WAN’T TO GIVE YOU THE NUMBER FOR MY NEW PHONE!!!

Mom: WHAT?? YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH A KIDNEY STONE??

ME: NO, I’m FINE!!

Mom: NEBACH!! YOU POOR KID!! YOU HAVE SO MANY PROBLEMS! YOU ARE TOO YOUNG FOR THIS!! HOW IS YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE??

ME: MA! I’M GOING TO CALL YOU BACK ON A LAND LINE!!

Mom: NOW YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH YOUR SPINE?? SO DO I. YOU’RE SISTER HAS A BAD BACK---

CALL DISCONNECTED

That was actually a pretty good call. Most calls from the office don’t even make it to the dialing stage. In fact, I’m not even sure my mom got the correct number, since I haven’t had any more interrupted Pap smears.

Initially, I thought the problem was with AT&T’s network, as the signal does improve as I move out of the neighborhood. But even at home, I’m noticing a discrepancy between the iPhone and other phones. For example sitting in the kitchen, I get one bar while my wife has three on her Motorola Razor, which uses the same network.

There are some other minor problems which probably wouldn’t have been an issue with a Windows Mobile phone. I need to sync with my Mac at home, since that’s where all of my iTunes music is. But that means that I can’t also sync with my office PC for appointments and contacts. I COULD choose to pay Steve Jobs ANOTHER $100 a year for Mobile Me, which would let me keep all my calendars in sync, but a) I think I’ve given him enough money, b) I don’t think I should have to pay for this, and 3) my wife has tried the service and is unimpressed in the extreme with its performance and reliability.

So the current fix is to export contacts and appointments from Outlook in a format that iCal or Apple Address Book can read, mail them to my gmail account, and then remember to download and import them later to my iMac when I get home. Obviously, this has “major screw up potential” written all over it, and I need to come up with a more fool-proof system for this.

In all it’s a shame, because what does work on the iPhone is very cool.

It has successfully replaced 3 of my other gadgets (old phone, iPod, and PDA). We’ve discussed its merits as a phone. It should be noted though, that the bluetooth works nicely with my car.

It ably replaces my iPod, although it does have half the storage capacity, which forced me to go through my library and pick and choose songs instead of dumping the whole thing in. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I had a lot of crappy music in there. I still have a lot of free space on the iPhone, and I may go back and liberalize the collection a bit.

As a PDA, it is certainly not as robust as my Dell Axim was. Aside from not having the convenient Outlook integration I had before (see above), it’s just harder to enter data into, and I found the stylus was much more precise for manipulating the touch screen than my finger or thumbs. But I am getting much better at it as time goes on. Some useful applications are not available to me, and I’m constantly watching the app store to see if alternates become available. Most distressing is the fact that solitaire, which has been free on every computer and handheld I’ve ever owned since the 80’s, now costs about ten bucks for a decent version. Sheesh!



The GPS is cool, when I can get a decent signal for it to work. Here’s an example of when it came in handy: Last week we decided to take a family trip down to Kenosha where they had a reenactment of a European trader/Native American gathering with role-players in costume and authentic gear, tents, demonstrations, etc. Plus Pirates. I realize Pirates don’t really belong in this Great Lakes setting, but whatever. It was the Pirates that brought us out.

So I got the directions over the internet on my iPhone and followed them down to the place. We found a parking lot off the beach and got out and decided to walk. There were no traders/Indians in sight. So, just for the heck of it, I decided to fire up the GPS on the iPhone, which told me that we had parked probably 10 blocks north of where we wanted to be. Not only that, but I had the option of loading satellite imagery into the map (it’s basically Google Maps) and could see both the parking space where we were, and where the gathering was supposed to be. Normally, it would have been 25 minutes and a lot of sweating and kvetching before we found out we were in the wrong place. Afterwards, my wife did a search for “ice cream” on the same map, and a bunch of pins appeared listing all of the nearby places. Of course, none of them were kosher, but you see the appeal. We did find a CVS and got some prepackaged stuff.

It takes great, 2 megapixel pictures:





Videos look very good on this thing, much better than they do on the computer. Provided you load them via wi-fi. Loading YouTube over 3G or Edge gets you a much more stuttery, low-rez version that’s not really fun to watch.

The medical software I needed is available, but it’s not as full-featured as the PDA version, and is missing the CME module, which is what I was actually using. But I’ll give them time to update it.

It needs to be charged once a day at least, according to my current usage (admittedly high because of the new goofing around factor), but it’s really nice that I can sit it in my car’s iPod dock and it will charge as I drive. So I no longer worry about a few in-car phone calls draining my phone. Which is good, because I think it’s one of my office manager’s policies to page me every time I get onto the highway. Also, I still have nightmares about the time I got into an accident in a snow storm and watched my phone slowly die as I waited for AAA to call me back.



Although the TuneFlex is not designed for the iPhone, it does work with an iPod Touch so hopefully nothing bad is happening. And it’s nice that it pauses the music when a phone call comes in, which didn’t happen before. So from that perspective, it is a success.

I’m certainly willing to give AT&T and Apple more time to fine-tune things. It’s distressing that it’s not very reliable as a phone, but that is why I still carry a pager, and the truth is I do most of my calls from land lines anyway. No, NOT bad spines! LAND LINES! LAAAANNND LLLIIIINEEEESSSS……….

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Honest Patient

Me:  Hi, Mr. Kaden!  How are you?

Mr. Kaden:  Lousy.

Me:  Lousy?  What's lousy?

Mr. Kaden:  Everything.  My back aches.  My shoulder hurts.  That medicine you gave me makes me go to the bathroom all night.  I'm nauseous.  I can't sleep at night.  Otherwise I'm fine.  How are you, doc?

Me:  Do you really want to know?

Mr. Kaden:  No. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I, Mac




The Three Laws of Computers

1. A computer may not injure a human being’s work (whether audio, video, or text) or, through inaction, allow a human being’s work to come to harm

2. A computer must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law

3. A computer system must protect its own existence and not crash randomly, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

I might add a few more laws to this list:

4. A computer shouldn’t take 10 minutes to boot up, and then sit for another 20 minutes “thinking”

5. A computer shouldn’t randomly freeze when you click on something in the tray

6. A computer shouldn’t require antivirus programs that progressively insinuate themselves into every aspect of your system and then throttle it with one mighty grasp

7. A computer shouldn’t update its operating system without your knowledge and then make half of your programs incompatible with it overnight

8. An operating system shouldn’t progressively bloat itself up until it consumes your entire hard drive

9. A computer shouldn’t allow you to spend hours, days, nigh, weeks on a video project and lull you into a false sense of security, and then suddenly freeze up halfway during final compiling FOR NO DISCERNABLE REASON

I could go on and on, but do I really have to?

Bye, bye, Windows. It’s been…something.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Trouble With Teenagers




SCENE 47
INTERIOR ENTERPRISE OFFICER’S MESS

(swish)

ENTER KIRK AND SPOCK

KIRK: Computer, leftover tray from last night’s salmon and spaghetti.
COMPUTER: Working.
KIRK: (REMOVING TRAY FROM REFRIGERATOR)

KIRK: My grilled salmon, and leftover spaghetti. This is my grilled salmon, and leftover spaghetti.
SPOCK: Fascinating. It would appear that one of the teenagers has opened your lunch tray and eaten your leftover spaghetti, then replaced the tray in the refrigerator.
KIRK: I want them off the ship, Spock. I don’t care if it takes every man we’ve got.
SPOCK: That may be difficult, Captain. They are, after all, your children.

ENTER SCOTTY CARRYING A PILE OF UNWASHED LAUNDRY

SCOTTY: Aye, they’re into the machinery, all right. None of the basement computers are working, the XBOX 360 is dead and the TV is emitting a high-pitched whine.
KIRK: Can you get the DVD player working?
SCOTTY: Ah cannah, Sir. If I try to run one of your movies she’ll blow apart!

(whistle)

SULU (over intercom): Sulu here, captain.
KIRK: Report.
SULU: Shuttle bay reports the Geo now has some new dents.
KIRK: I’m on my way.

EXIT KIRK, SPOCK, SCOTTY

SCENE 48
INTERIOR ENTERPRISE BRIDGE

(swish)

ENTER KIRK, SPOCK, SCOTTY

KIRK: Uhura, get me Starfleet Command.
UHURA: I can’t, Sir, all the phone lines are in use.
KIRK: Well, FIND me the basement phone!
UHURA: Hailing basement phone….no response on any frequency.
SPOCK: Am attempting to use sensors to locate the basement extension phone….(LOOKS INTO SENSOR DOODAD WITH BLUE LIGHT…YOU KNOW THAT THINGIE HE’S ALWAYS LOOKING INTO) It appears to be under a pile of laundry behind the door of the boiler room.

KIRK: Spock, we’ve got to get these kids off of the ship before they destroy it.
SPOCK: Captain, I’m forced to agree. I’ve been running computations on their rate of growth. The figures are taking an alarming direction. They are consuming our supplies, eating our food, using our cars, talking on our phones, occupying our bathrooms and showers, producing enormous amounts of laundry, destroying our electronics, and returning nothing.
UHURA: But they do give us something, Mr. Spock. They give us love.
SPOCK: (RAISES LEFT EYEBROW)
KIRK: Too much of anything, Lieutenant, even love, isn’t necessarily, a good thing. (GIVES PILE OF SHOES AND SNEAKERS TO UHURA)
UHURA: Yes Captain.
KIRK: Have maintenance clean up the entire ship.

ENTER McCOY

McCOY: Jim I think I’ve got it! All we have to do is quit feeding them. We quit feeding them, and they stop growing!
KIRK: Now he tells me.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ain't No Cure for the Summerfest Blues

We played a Blues-heavy set at Summerfest this year.  Here are a few of the songs:



Im Ain Ani Li - An original based on Hillel's famous proverb.  Music inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan






Red House - A perennial favorite






Just How Long - Another original based on Psalm 13



And if you're a Santana fan, check out this one.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summerfest 08!

The Band will be playing Summerfest this Sunday, June 29, from 12-3 on the Classic Rock Stage.

Stop by and say hi!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Cold One



The scene: 11:30 PM. A parched, fatigued, achy Psychotoddler stumbles through the back door, carrying two guitars, after a grueling 9 hour wedding gig. Finally making his way into the foyer, he drops the guitars, hangs up his jacket and makes his way into the kitchen.


PT: Ho man, that gig was BRUTAL!


Fudge (on the couch checking emails): Uh-oh. Er...hi Abba...is it shlepping time?


PT: No. No. No...more...shlepping... I'm leaving it all in the van. I have another gig Sunday and I'm not bringing all those speakers and poles and amps and stands in again. My back is KILLING me! (moves to kitchen)


Curly: Oh hey, Abba, how was your gig?


PT: Good, but I'm totally parched. There wasn't much water for the band and I was shvitzing like an old man in a sauna. I need a cold one. (opens fridge). What the--! NO COLD ONES?? Curly, go check the downstairs fridge.


Curly (returning): Sorry Abba, no cold ones downstairs. I see one in the pantry though.


PT: Is it cold?


Curly: No. It's in the pantry.
PT: Then it is scarcely an adequate replacement.


Curly: Lemme look in the fridge again. How about some steak sauce? It's cold.


PT: I don't think I should drink that. Grrrr....I guess I'll have to drink this warm Kiwi/Strawberry Snapple.


Curly: Um, that's Mom's. I don't think she wants you to drink that.


PT: She should have thought of that before she didn't put any cold ones in the refrigerator.


some time later


Curly: How was your Snapple?


PT: As it turns out, the ideal conditions for drinking Snapple include it being cold on its own. Watering it down with ice doesn't do the trick.


Curly: Better luck next time, Abba.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Convergence and the Art of Degadgetification

A few years back I lamented the continuing accumulation of gadgets on my Bat Utility Belt. And since technology had not yet caught up to my needs, I succumbed and added the PDA to my growing armamentarium. Since that time I have begun to come to the realization that many of my musculo-skeletal maladies are directly related to the number of devices vying for the opportunity to topple me over in one direction or another. It has become an art with me to attempt to balance the belt-gadgets in such a way that I remain more or less upright, so much so that the simple act of removing one of them, say answering the cell phone, may disrupt this precarious equilibrium and send me reeling in an unpredictable direction. Of course, it is rare that I actually do fall, because my muscles (such as they are) are constantly contracting to counteract these gravimetric forces and keep me in check. And it is precisely these continuous minute muscular actuations that are making my lower back kvetch like an old man trying to get me out of his seat in shul.

On top of this, I have become more convinced than ever that it was a dire mistake to move my wallet from my front left pocket to my rear left pocket, as the thickness of that wallet is entirely variable and related to a complicated interaction between loose change, when I last went to the candy machine, Walgreen’s receipts, how many guitar picks I've lost, and the coming and going of assorted business cards. The net effect of which is that now I sit or drive cockeyed.

All this is making me one very uncomfortable Psychotoddler. But what to do, what to do? I need all this stuff. I do.

I need my wallet (and some of what’s in it). I need my pager. I need my cell phone. I need my keys, my PDA, and my iPod. Most of all my iPod. Oh, to think there was once a time when I was brash enough to say that I didn’t need one. What a fool I was! If I could lose them all, and keep my iPod…dayenu!

But I need to do something. Which brings me to the title of this post. Convergence! We’ve been talking about it for years! Well, I’ve been talking about it for years. At least thinking about it. Er…contemplating thinking about it. You know what I mean.

Can’t I squeeze all these moderately sized gadgets into one good gadget? In an age of cell phones that can take movies, download music and play games, why do I need all of these devices?

A wise person once said, “the older I get, the smarter my phone gets.” Actually I think it was my wife. Anyway, I’m thinking about smart phones again. A smart phone won’t get rid of my keys. Or my pager (not yet, anyway). Or my wallet. But maybe it can combine my phone with my PDA and my iPod.

Well, naturally, since the iPod is my favoritest of my childr—er, I mean, gadgets, I should start there. Apple has its iPhone. Sleek….SexySomething else that starts with S… This is a very attractive option for me, as it would let me replace my iPod, PDA, and phone, and allow me to charge it and listen in the car at the same time (through the excellent Griffin Tuneflex--assuming it's supported). Unfortunately, 16 gigabytes is a serious step-down from my current iPod, which means I'd have to hack and slash at my library. Also I'm not really clear on how functional this is as a PDA. Currently, I do medical education on my PDA. Will the iPhone support the same apps? How is it with Outlook? And how well with the upcoming 3G version work? Questions for the Mac-O-philes out there.

The other possibilities in more "traditional" smart-phones are:

A Windows Mobile based “tilt phone”—the major advantage being that it will directly replace my PDA, interface and sync smoothly with Microsoft Outlook and import all of my contacts, email and appointments, and run all of the games medical software that I’ve already bought. The screen is smaller than my current PDA, but hey, that’s why Gd invented reading glasses. Otherwise it’s a pretty direct replacement. Battery life may be an issue, though. It’s also very expensive.

Palm Treo—my friend Doctor Bean swears by his, and now they run Windows Mobile (although 5.0 instead of 6.0 like the tilt phone), but the screen is smaller and square so that’s a little annoying.

Blackberry—people seem to like these things, but I can’t really figure them out. They have their own operating system and applications? How well would this integrate with my Outlook? Also it has the smaller screen which I don’t care for, and I don’t know if it will run my medical apps and games. And I don’t need satellite radio (but there are other models which are cheaper).

So as usual, I open this up to what remains of my loyal readership to try to sway me one way or the other.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kabbalah Kollection Kompleted!



I just realized that the title to this post makes for a very unfortunate acronym. Anyhoo.

Contrary to what you may think, this blog has not devolved into a series of self-promoting music advertisements. And since it's the exception that proves the rule, on to today's post!

As you know, I've received many complaints/comments/congratulations etc. about the fact that I'm not blogging much, and I'm not going to go into all the reasons for that again because I did that, what, two posts ago? Suffice it to say that, during the course of writing even this crummy post, I was interrupted at least 17 times. But anyway, a good chunk of not blogging is related to my music: doing various shows, rehearsing, weddings, and most relevantly, releasing Kabbalah: Kollection.

Kabbalah was my second band, formed during the '80s, and I wrote a lot of songs for it. We recorded two albums (three really, if you include Rock of Sages), which I am very proud of, because we wrote, arranged, and performed all of the music ourselves. Those albums really did represent the creative output of our band (rather than the vision of a hired arranger).

As I've gone on to form different bands, I've always incorporated the songs I wrote with Kabbalah into our playlist, and yet the albums have been out of print and unavailable for 20 years. So I finally decided to produce an anthology CD and release it. Rather than hit you with a heap of hysterical hyperbole, I'm going to quote the recent write up by my blogfather, Blog in DM:


Kabbalah - Kabbalah Kollection

When I was in high school, the mashgiach banned a Jewish rock album called Kabbalah. Had he not done so, I likely would not have heard it. Since he chose to make the school aware of the album, someone obtained a copy and it was surreptitiously passed around the dorm.

The album featured original rock settings of tefilah. Times have changed, and what was under-appreciated then just might get some more attention now, especially given the success of so many other Jewish rock bands.

Now available in a CD re-release featuring songs from 1986’s Kabbalah and 1987’s Kabbalah: Classic, the disc can be purchased at CD Baby.

Consisting of bassist/vocalist M Skier (now known as Psycho Toddler), guitarist Izzy Botnick, drummer Simcha Kagan, Moish Taubenblat (volume 1) and Brian Gelfand (volume 2) on keys and vocals, with saxophonist Adam Greebler (volume 1) and Jacob Rosenthal on guitar, Kabbalah was unashamedly a Jewish rock band playing Jewish rock music. And, they did it well.

This disc rocks. If you like classic rock, you should definitely check this out. Jewish music as influenced by the Ramones, The Kinks, Squeeze, and so many more.

This collection includes classic tracks like Shru Lo and Yismechu as well as covers of Eurovision hit ‘Abanibi” and Diaspora Yeshiva Band’s “Hakol Yoducha.” There are also two previously unreleased tracks: “Ohr Chadash” and “Shivti”. Recorded in the '80's, this album holds up very well today.


Moshe Skier - Rock of Sages

Also included in the review package with the Kabbalah Kollection, this album is what would have been Kabbalah 3, had funding come through. It features Moshe Skier originals as well as one song by Izzy Botnick and one co-written with Lenny Solomon.


Both CDs can be ordered here or directly from me.

MP3 albums can be downloaded directly from Amazon.com. Amazon must be trying to steal business from iTunes, because it's offering its downloads for the same price or lower, but giving higher quality MP3s (256 kbps vs 128 or 160) and making them DRM (digital rights management) free, so that, unlike iTunes songs, they can play on any MP3 player and you can burn them to disk as often as you like.

From Amazon.com:

Kabbalah Kollection

Rock of Sages

Or just try this widget (thanks to Blog in DM for turning me on to this):


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lag B'Onfire!



We're debuting some new material

I'm Not Dead Yet...



...just very very busy.

Wot wiff?

Lesseee....


Life


The Universe


Everything


Son 1 graduating HS and getting ready for Israel


Big gig on Lag BeOmer for Kfar in Chicago


Really big gig at Summerfest on June 29


Work is very busy

I'm still trying to exercise most nights (thank G-d for BSG DVDs)


Just uploaded my album to CDBaby for sale, and it's going up on Amazon.com, iTunes, and virtually every other music download service.


I also (finally) printed a limited run of Kabbalah: Kollection CDs, which is an anthology of songs from my old band. I play many of these songs with my current band, and people are constantly coming up to me at gigs trying to buy a copy. Kabbalah's cassettes have been out of print for 20 years, and we never made CDs, so this is kind of exciting. In addition, these songs will be available online for downloading from all the same outlets shortly.


The other thing that's been keeping me busy is that I've written a few more songs, and I am in the process of switching to a computer-based recording setup at home.


I've already purchased a really neat gizmo called a Toneport which is basically a USB interface for guitars and microphones. But it has some amazing software that "models" various amplifiers and effects, so the net effect is that rather than blasting my neighborhood away with a stack of Marshall cabinets to get that crunchy distorted guitar sound on tape, I can just pull up a preset on the computer and get the same sound!


However, trying to use my kids' computer to record music has unmasked yet another problem, which is that PCs are getting buggier by the minute, and I've gotten so fed up with it that I am...




actually...



...er...


..I can't believe I'm really typing this...


...considering...






...switching to...um...






...er






...a mac.


Look, it's just set up to do pictures, video, and most importantly music, much more reliably, and frankly, I'm tired of spending money on Windows apps that are buggy out of the box or suddenly stop working 6 months down the line due to some new incompatiblity.


My only issue with Apple is that you pay a lot more for the same features, but I guess if you factor in the upgrading and troubleshooting that Windows seems to demand on an ongoing basis, it's a wash.


I know. I'm not fooling anyone.


I'm getting better!

I feel happy....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shlock Rock DVD


The Shlock Rock DVD is finally here and it makes a great Afikoman present!


My favorite part: The "bonus" feature containing footage from live shows and some of Lenny's many TV interviews. Look carefully for a bit where Lenny is interviewed by Captain Amazing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nuthing Lik a Beepur!

You loyal PT readers know that I like nothing better than genre fiction! Wuat? You don't?? What's that you say? XBOX and DVDs? That's ridiculous! No, I like to read and write books!

So I'm expanding my writing into a new genre, which I will label "The PT Grafik Novuls". Here's my first effort, based on the best-selling hit "Nuthing Lik a Famule." For other entries in this field, see "Nuthing Lik a Dat" and "Nuthing Lik a Vampir."


Nuthing Lik a Beepur

By

Sikotodlur

(grat buk!)

---

This book belogs to

Sikotodlur

---

In the morning, I anser my pajur

My wife dosin’t lic to, not vare

My kids slep late

I tak a showur and forget to trn off my beepur

My wife gets mad

---

War...AAA...my payshunt is

(where is my patient?)

Oh, uh “where is my patient”

er...where IS my patient?

In raydiolojee, that is war he is

---

(what’s going on on this page?)

(he’s waiting for the elevator)

---

(how about this page?)

(same page)

(who’s in the restraints?)

(the alcohol withdrawal patient)

(they put the withdrawal patients in restraints?)

(yeah, the nurses like to put them in there)

(who’s the guy with the tie?)

(that’s the hospital administrator)

---

AAA! (looking at hospital list)

Dont Wry! You hav to see thm all today!

---

(ah, there he is reading the charts)

(what are all those things hanging from the IV poles)

(it’s like thingies that hang from the IV poles)

(are they antibiotics?)

(no, look this gives you a hint. Can you guess)

(it’s covered in foil? Is it nitroprusside)

(No. See, all these gives you a hint)

(Is he in the ICU?)

(Yes!)

---

Hmm! >:-(

---

Wut cind uv consult is this!?

(illegible handwriting!)

---

Wuat!

You didn’t write a good note

---

(Boy, are you gonna leave the hospital? Are you going to eat a kit kat in the doctor’s lounge? No, I think I’m going to go answer my pager…)

---

(what’s happening in this picture?)

(dreaming…doo doo doo)

(what’s he dreaming about?)

(page page page page…he’s dreaming he’s getting paged all night by the ER…oh wait…he IS getting paged all night by the ER)

---

Wi do I cep getting payjed!!

(because you’re on call)

---

Hmmm mm mabe yor pages are good

FFF for “forgot to call for refill during the week”

D for drug-seeker

---

Pashunts are mor importint

Evere uther day!

---

The End!

(doo doooo doodoo doodoo doo)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Doctor Bean VS The PT

RRRRIIIINNNNGGGGG

Me: Hello?

Doctor Bean: Mark? Hi, it's Doctor Bean calling. Look, I'm just calling to make sure you're OK, because you haven't posted in 13 days, and

The PT: HELLO???

Me: Hang up, The PT.

DB: The PT?

The PT: (stunned silence)

DB: The PT? Hello? Are you there?

The PT: (raises eyebrows)

DB: Are you still on the phone?

The PT: Yes...

DB: It's me, Doctor Bean. Do you remember me?

The PT:

DB: Yes, well...er...I came to visit you...last year...from California...or rather I came to visit your parents...

The PT:

DB: ...and then a year before that they flew to California to visit us? And maybe you stayed with your grandparents? Do you remember?

The PT: No.

DB: Oh, well, you were pretty young. Do you still have your cast?

The PT: No.

DB: Oh, um, that's good.

The PT: Do you know what I have in my hand?

DB: No, what?

The PT: An eyeball.

DB: ...really...and do you still have two eyeballs in your head?

The PT: Yes.

DB: Well, then that's OK.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dr. Snowlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Snow

The current record for the most snowfall in a single Winter in Milwaukee was set in the 1885-1886 season at 109.8 inches. That's just over 9 feet. Including the 1-2 inches that fell last night, we are now up to 98.9 inches for 2007-2008. That puts us in second place.

At this point, I'm thinking, the heck with it. Let's go for #1! Snow at the Seder? Bring it on!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doctor's Day

Lady Pushing Cart: Oh, hello, doctor! Happy Doctor's Day!

Me: Er...thanks...is it Doctor's Day already (checks watch)?

Lady: It certainly is! Would you like a boutonniere? (hands me red flower)

Me: Ummm....sure. Is this a boutonneire?

Lady (laughs): Why of course it is! Would you like help pinning it on?

Me: No thanks, I'll just eat it here.

Lady: (horrified expression)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hanna Wisconsin

Here it is, hot off the presses, The PT's latest smash hit single, Going Up!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Banning Simcha

My wife was watching Fiddler on the Roof last night when I got home, and I watched a bit with her over dinner.

I'm pretty sure these Great Men who have been Talibanning Jewish Music concerts would never watch Fiddler, simply because there are women singing. And I think it's a great shame. Because they could learn a thing or two from the good people of Anatevka, who seemed to remember that Jews can live through the worst of times and still manage to sing and dance and serve their Creator with simcha, joy.


It's too bad our so-called leaders are so much more eager to emulate the former leaders of Afghanistan than Tevyeh the Milkman.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Air Guitar

What is it that they say? You get what you pay for? Sometimes, you don’t get even that much. Such was the result of my brief flirtation with wireless musicianship.

There are those who believe that putting “wireless” in front of everything makes it cooler and more useful. You know, like, “wireless” telephones and “wireless” internet and “wireless” coffee. These are the same people who told us that if you put “i” in front of a word it will be hipper and old people won’t be able to use it, like the “i”phone, or that putting “e” in front of word makes it modern, like “e”mail and “e”vacuum cleaner.

“I” would definitely be one of those people. And so it is with this attitude that I drove my “e”car down to the “wireless” music store and bought my first wireless instrument system. To be fair to the salesman, he first attempted to sell me a much more expensive system that probably actually worked. I gave him my “i”expression (hip and savvy and not in any way over 40) and demanded something cheaper.

He countered with the Nady DKW 8 GT DKW 8 HT Guitar and Microphone Wireless Package, which I had seen on the “wireless” internet. This came with a wireless instrument transmitter that you hook onto your belt and a receiver, and included a free wireless hand-held microphone and receiver. It even included a battery! All for about 80 bucks. To quote Eddie Murphy, “Waat a bahgin!”









My first clue came when I tried it out in my “bass”ment, and noticed a pretty profound drop in volume even a foot away from the receiver. But, I figured, I could compensate by raising the volume. Not ideal (I had hoped to be able to match the corded (non-“wireless”…wired?) volume for the purpose of sound mixing, but whatever.

I decided to try them out at my next gig, a Sheva Brachos. I thought the wireless mic would be perfect for it, as it could be passed around between the people saying the blessings.

Once the band was set up, we did some warm-up songs, mostly slow dinner music. The transmitter worked fine. My band mates watched in amazement, maybe a little envy, as I suddenly walked away from the group, moved out to the middle of the room, turned to face them and appraise the sound mix. They were even more bewildered when, instead of returning to the bandstand, I moved to the back of the room, approached the dessert table, and sliced a big piece of chocolate cake, put it on a plate, moseyed over to a table in front of the band and began to eat it with my right hand, all the time continuing to play the song with my left hand on the fret board. Fretting and fressing*, as it were.

(As an aside, there are really two problems with eating chocolate cake and playing bass simultaneously: First, you get crumbs on the bass. And second, it’s very easy to end up with frosting in your beard. Embarrassing, to say the least.)

Anyway, I found the newfound freedom to be very refreshing. For example, typically when someone comes up to make a speech, I am trapped up there with him because of the cable. This time, I slowly edged myself off to the side and then slipped out of the room with my bass still on me.

The speakers were happy to have the wireless mic—at first. By about the third or fourth speaker (hey, this was a Jewish event) it started cutting out frequently, and by the time The Rabbi got the mic it was practically useless. This despite a change of battery (both new). They went back to using a wired mic. I never even got to try it for singing with a full band.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy being able to pluck a few notes on the bass out in the hallway, to the amusement of all the other low-lifes who skipped out on The Rabbi’s speech and to the dismay of The Rabbi, who was still trying to speak as my bass amp spewed forth random blurts of D-flat behind him.

Finally, it was time for the big dance set. I moved into position next to the guitar player, the better to see the charts, but prepared to make a quick dash out to the center circle, to be adored by the dancing celebrants, who would no doubt be delighted to see the guy with the big guitar in their midst.

The sax player called the first tune, gave a quick count, and then—



Nnnnnoooooottttthhhhhhiiiinnnngggg.

My bass made a few crackling sounds, then quit. The band took off like a bunch of horses at the starting gate, and I was left behind playing air guitar. The thing was totally dead. I got maybe 20 minutes out of it on a fresh battery.

I made a quick switcheroo and was back to wirefull bass for the remainder of the gig.

Back to the store with this one.


*© 2008 Ralphie

Monday, February 25, 2008

Screening Calls

Ring, ring....

The PT: (breathing)

Fudge: Hello? Is anyone there?

The PT: Um, hello? Don't you hear me breathing?

Fudge: Oh man...The PT, it's--

The PT: I know who it is! You think I don't know what you sound like?

Fudge: Um--

The PT: Can I put you on speakerphone?

Fudge: What the--

The PT: This phone is KILLING my shoulder. I'm putting you on speakerphone.

Fudge: Well actually, I wanted to talk to Mommy, is she around?

The PT: What? I can't hear you. I'm putting you on speakerphone.

Fudge: No, The PT, don't--

The PT: (click).

Ring, ring.

The PT: Hello?

Fudge: Hi, The PT, can I talk to Mommy?

The PT: Not anymore. She just left the room, and I am doing kriah. Wanna listen? Cha....cha...er....chaer...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Radio Unit


I’m strongly considering getting a wireless transmitter unit for my bass. Not because I want to jump off the drum kit (hey, I can do that now), but because there are times when I need to get a feel for how the band sounds out in the audience and I can’t do that when I’m tethered by a 20 foot cable to my amp.

Frequently, I’m the sound man for the band, which means I adjust the volumes and individual levels, and I normally can’t listen to the bass when I do that, so I add it in later and hope for the best (and watch the old ladies cover their ears).

Even when I’m not doing sound, I find myself the target of volume offense accusations:

“We’re too loud because of YOU!!”

“Wuat? I can barely hear my bass!”

“No, man, you can’t tell when you’re right in front of it. You need to hear it from OUT THERE (points to back of room, not outer space)!!”

Plus I guess it would be, y’know, cool to get out into the crowd every once and while during a gig.

So if you are a bass player and you have any experience or suggestions for particular units, pipe in.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Indian Name v2.0

First take a look at this post.

Recall that I could not pronounce the name I received.

Now experience, through the marvels of technology, and the kindness of Wickwire, Xw’dob’obz’buddahlth.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ask PT




Today we will inaugurate a new feature at Psycho Toddler called Ask PT. You ask the questions, and I will attempt to answer them. Just email me through my profile.

I'll start us off with the first one:

Dear PT,

Do you think it is a good idea to snap pictures of funny license plates with your cell phone while you are driving in bumper to bumper traffic in bad weather?

Your friend,

TZ


Look Tizzy, since you are very obviously not me, I will favor you with a reply. NO. I think it is a VERY bad idea to surreptitiously attempt to photograph other drivers on the road, especially when you are the one behind the wheel.

I could think of a lot of reasons, many of them having to do with the dangers of fiddling with gadgets while you are trying to control a 1.5 ton vehicle in close proximity to other similar or larger sized vehicles.

But the main reason is that you never know when the person you are filming suddenly decides to follow you to your destination and demand to know why you are filming him.

But thanks for the picture!

Friday, February 08, 2008

New York Travelogue

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Apparently, my ploy to use Fudge as our family’s Bad Travel Karma Magnet is working, since my flight with Moe to La Guardia went without a hitch. We took off on time, landed on time, and even got our luggage. And we had a magnificent view of Manhattan as we circled around from the north for a southern runway approach. We waited approximately 30 seconds on the curb before the Enterprise Shuttle (I believe it was the Galileo 7) picked us up, and we even got our car upgraded to a Chrysler 300.


Suh-weet!



There Goes the Neighborhood



The first thing I noticed as I pulled up to my mother’s house was the monstrosity being erected next door. I guess I’m not very observant, but my mother tells me that for the 20 or so years that I lived with her in that house, and then for another 20 after I left, she had the same neighbor. I’m not sure how it is that I never realized it was the same person all those years, other than maybe it having something to do with the fact that I can recall only a handful of conversations with her. I have a few snippets here and there. I remember her son and how he had a Pontiac Bonneville. I remember the ambulance coming when her husband died. I remember a new car suddenly appearing in her driveway when, presumably, she remarried. I remember going over there one day when I was a teenager, when she wasn’t feeling well. I remember suddenly seeing her son again on the porch, after 30 years, when she was dying of pancreatic cancer, and of having my 2nd or third conversation with him, the first as an adult.

And since then, she has passed on, the house has been sold, and has gone the way of most of the houses which get sold in my mother’s neighborhood. It was torn down, to be replaced by some gargantuan edifice extending to the sidewalk, obliterating the lawn. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought that a house that goes up in a neighborhood should look at least a little like the surrounding houses, so that it looks like it belongs there. Fudge would remind me later on that, looking around the block, it’s not so out-of-place anymore.

What really bothers my mom is that the workers show up every morning at 6:30 and start making a racket. She was very happy when I pulled my 300 up in front of her house.

“Good! Now those jerks won’t be able to park there!”


Suburban Legends

After some reheated Benjy’s Pizza, we had an appointment to visit Boba.



From left to right: My mother, Moe, Fudge, Cousin Meyer, Cousin Rosie, and Boba, in Boba’s parlor, where she greets visiting dignitaries and Internet celebrities. Note that in my family we follow the convention of pre-pending the title to the relative’s name, e.g. Uncle Fester or Cousin It. This does not apply to Boba, however, because that is not her real name. She acquired that name from me, as apparently, much like Adam, all creatures in our family were paraded before me as a child to name (see Moish), and I was unable to pronounce “Aunt Paula” and so anointed her “Boba,” and it stuck.

We take that in our family as Urban Legend, or maybe Suburban Legend, much like the famed story of “Moishe's Fish Has Feathers,” or the one about how I use to call soda “clumsy” because whenever Cousin Yossi poured soda, he spilled it, causing Boba to yell “CLUMSY!!” Or the story of how apparently I borrowed money from my sister when I was twelve and never paid it back.

“Your sister was like a bank!” Boba exclaimed. “She ALWAYS had money. You,” a dismissive flip of the wrist towards me, “gornisht!”

“Yes, that’s true,” said my mother. “You were always borrowing money from her. And then when she went to collect, you asked for an I.O.U., and she didn’t have one, because you wouldn’t give it to her, so you never paid her.”

“I have no memory of this.”

“Markie! You are losing your mind!”


The Restaurant

Mom: How do you like that! You (gesturing at my sister and brother-in-law) finally get a night away from your kids, and what happens? They sit you at a table next to a bunch of screaming children!

Fudge (mortified): It’s OK, grandma, they really aren’t making much noise.

Mom: (yelling over the shrieking baby) Ha! If your aunt and uncle wanted to eat with a bunch of vilde chayos they could have stayed home!

Sister: Thanks.

Me: I don’t really care. As long as they’re someone else’s kids, they can make noise. It only bothers me when it’s my own kids.

Mom: Your kids! Your kids would never make noise!

Moe: SNORT

Me: Well, not everyone can get a baby sitter. I don’t mind. It’s heimish.

Moe: Heimish, eh? I have to remember to use that word more.

Mom: (to my sister) So, you remember when your brother used to borrow money from you?

Sister: No.

Brother-in-Law: What?

Me: Mommy seems to be under the impression that I borrowed money from your wife.

BIL: When?

Me: Like around 1978. Do you remember this?

Sister: No.

BIL: How much money?

Mom: I don’t know. Five dollars.

Sister: I don’t remember this.

Me: Neither do I.

BIL: Five dollars! In 1978! Did you ever pay it back?

Me: How should I know? I don’t even remember borrowing it.

Mom: He never paid her back. He told her “the Torah says you should be happy with your lot.”

Fudge and Moe: WUAT??

Me: That doesn’t sound like something I’d say…

BIL: Five dollars in 1978? Do you know how much that would be worth today??

Mom: I don’t know. Probably ten dollars.


On the Lasting Impression I left at YU

Monday we drove up to Washington Heights for Moe's interview. During the 5 hours he was doing his thing, I was studiously attempting not to be a helicopter parent. So basically I had...nothing...to do...for several hours. A situation I rarely find myself in these days.

Fortunately, I was able to call on my old college buddy and former roommate to rescue me by doing what we did 20 years ago. Hang around campus making fun of people discussing politics and philosophy.


Here you see us enjoying a meal, or at least maybe waiting for a meal to enjoy, at the place that is not Chopsie's Pizza. After that we went to the library to steal some internet time, and I had my second encounter with the security guard.

The first one was when she eyed me suspiciously as I went through the metal detector. I quickly volunteered that I was a visitor, but an alumnus as well. The latter impressed her not in the least, as she firmly requested some form of photo ID, then begrudgingly allowed me access to the inner sanctum of the backwards building.

This second time, she saw my friend, and said, "You were a student here." We were both taken aback. "I recognize you. You can pass." And just like Brave Sir Lancelot in The Holy Grail, he was waived off to the other side.

It was then I came to realize what little lasting impression my seven years at the uptown campus had left. My ego severely deflated, I spent the rest of the afternoon noticing how unnoticed I was. It seemed that there was no one there who recognized me.




UNTIL!

"Excuse me! Hey! Excuse me!"

"Yes?" I replied, as my ex-roommate and I searched for the remains of Heshie's and tried to figure out how Grandma's had morphed from Cookies to Pizza, or even how it was possible for there to be so many Pizza shops on one block.

"I think I recognize you!"

"YOU DO!!!"

"Yes! You're the Psychotoddler!"


Er, thanks for totally freaking out my friend, Brad. I guess I should be happy for what little notoriety I can get.


On the Best Freakin' Chinese Food I've Had Since The Last Time I Ate at Estihana


It was totally worth the 30 minutes I spent circling the block looking for parking.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Snow Day

Well, this is the BIG ONE. The one they'll be talking about for years. "Remember the blizzard of '08?" "Yeah, we got two feet of snow!"


I had to take the day off. I couldn't get to work. Here are some sequential pictures:



11:30 am:


12:30 pm:


6:30 pm:


7:30 pm:


Now you see it:


Now you don't!



I felt pretty bad staying home. It's like I was playing hooky. Well, it didn't matter. The clinic closed anyway and virtually every other business in town shut down too. The kids were home. There were innumerable accidents and at least one fatality by tractor trailer on the highway not far from where I work.

I actually got some stuff done today, aside from shoveling and making hamburgers for dinner. I bought a new bass preamp/direct box/pedal at the suggestion of an excellent Chicago Bass Player and I can't believe how much better I sound/perform with it. I played for 3 hours today, mostly going over Aaron Razel's material for an upcoming show on 2/17.

That is, assuming I'm not buried alive here.