Saturday, December 18, 2004

Long live polka

My article "Primal Polka" is up on Isthmus' web site, and I've linked to it over on the right. I'm as happy with the piece as anything I've ever written, and it prompted someone to send the newspaper a letter praising the story and calling for the piano accordion to be made a Wisconsin state symbol. (The polka is Wisconsin's state dance.)

Let's hear it for the piano accordion.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pay no attention to these signs

OK, it's probably not a conspiracy--no, really--but what's the deal with those displays that fraternal organizations put up at the outskirts of town? You're driving into some city, and suddenly there's a clump of little signs put up by Elks, Lions, Rotarians, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, Shriners, Masons, Illuminati, God knows who--it's hard to read the signs at 55 miles per hour. What's going on? Why are these signs at city limits? Are they the remnant of some weird medieval practice? Do the Optimists own my town? And what, exactly, are all these organizations for?

I wanted to link to an image of one of these collections of signs, but I CAN'T FIND ANY SUCH IMAGE ON THE WEB (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!).

I got to thinking about all this because yesterday I was listening to Ray Stevens' classic novelty recording, "Shriner's Convention."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Today's random public library find

Kenny and Julia Loggins, The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Path of Love (New York: Avon Books, 1997). It comes with a CD.

Quote found at random: "I'm vulnerable to all of Kenny's moods, and skeptical of my own. I, too, am in detox" (147).

Monday, December 13, 2004

How strange the web is

Would you believe I started out looking for images of sausage balls and, through a series of links I now forget, somehow wound up here?

P.S. Some fine images of sausage balls are here and here. And that's just scratching the surface. Of the balls.
The void

I think the days of expanded basic cable in our home are numbered, but this afternoon I decided to watch an example of what is arguably cable television's signature phenomenon: the breaking news story. Yes, today Scott Peterson, convicted of murdering his wife and her unborn child, was to learn what sentence the jury recommended, death or life in prison without parole. I turned on CNN about half an hour before the scheduled time and listened to a long, dull debate of the ramifications.

Turns out the jury recommended death, but I missed the reading. I had switched over to Jane Pauley's talk show.

We can't get rid of expanded basic cable soon enough.
New bits

Hey kids, over on the right I have posted seven of my music articles that appeared in Isthmus over the last few months: reviews of CDs by Reverend Horton Heat, Rufus Wainwright and Arena Venus; "So Happy Together," about Sector Five, a new record label in Madison; "All Things Must Pass," about indie rock deities Luna; "Tune Town," a paean to commercial radio; and "Poster Children," a story about a local married couple who make beautiful silkscreen posters for rock shows.

I'm especially pleased with "Poster Children."

In other exciting news, last week Isthmus published several of my book blurbs, those short reviews I've been writing that also appear over there on the right. How fabulous! To look at the list today you might think I stopped reading for a month, but in fact I have been grinding my way through a single--long--book for several weeks. I'll blurb it anon. Once I'm done reading it, that is. (It's due back at the library soon.)