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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):