Friday, December 30, 2005

Unwanted Encore

Frequent readers may recall the parking trouble we and other residents of our street have had with the meatheaded owner of the white Ford F150 truck who has parked across and blocked driveways.
Well, I took today off from work and anticipated sleeping in a bit, but at a little before 9 a.m., Val came upstairs to tell me that the white Ford was blocking our driveway again, and that she couldn't get her car out to go to work. I called and asked that someone come and ticket the truck and tow it away; while I threw some jeans on and grabbed my wallet and keys, a parking enforcement officer quickly arrived and ticketed the truck for blocking our driveway and for having an out-of-date inspection sticker, and he marked the vehicle for towing. It's been a bit more than an hour, and the truck is still there, and I am hoping that the tow truck gets here before the grunting driver boy does.
And yes, I got Val to work on time, and I have eaten breakfast and watched a documentary instead of trying to go back to sleep, and Walker Evans, our dog, was glad to see me and to get an extra session in the backyard.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Current Musical Pet Peeve

I am neither sorry that with tonight's (Wednesday, December 28) Trans-Siberian Orchestra show at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, I will not have to hear the damn annoying radio commercial for it again, nor am I sad that I missed the show.
First, this allegedly fantastic music, which I have taken the time to hear/listen to outside of the radio and television commercials it is featured in, is absolutely nothing more than fifth-rate, refried classical music blended with rock music into a most syrupy amalgamation of the worst prog rock and related musical styles have to offer (you're a mean one, Mr. Hosey...). Take the absolute worst that Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Kansas, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Marillion and maybe even Rush have to offer, make it more commercial and schmaltzier, and you're getting a bit close to the wretchedness that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Don't get me wrong, because I like some prog rock; hell, I asked for and received the new remastered double CD of Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" from Val, and, while I mock her incessantly about Rush, I do acknowledge that the band has a lot of talent and has written and recorded some very good music, and I enjoy King Crimson, particularly "Red" and "Discipline." But while I admit that there appears to be some talent in the band's musicianship, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's music to me is just awful, uninspired and cliche-ridden.
But what has pissed me off most about the radio commercial for the show is, when the guy with the deep radio voice is noting some reviews of the band, he quotes one reviewer as saying/writing that the band is "startlingly original." WHAT? Like or dislike the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, one thing the band is not is original; as well as all of the bands mentioned above, Electric Light Orchestra also blended rock and classical music, and if I remember correct, had just a wee bit of commercial success as well as, in my opinion, was creative and enjoyable. I am not a betting person, but if I was, I would put money on the fact that the person who wrote the above quote is not and has never been a popular music/rock music writer or critic.

Sorry, We Missed It

Yes, friends, Val and I are sorry that despite our best intentions, we missed the December 23 Fems show at Club Diablo; Val had her weekly Avonex injection and monthly IV drug treatment for her MS, and while she tried hard to shake things, she was way too tired and run down to make it. We hope all of our readers who went to the show had a great time, as always.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Holiday Tradition....

As far as holidays in Buffalo go, there is nothing like getting together with old friends And though we can't have the yearly reunion and the departed Continental, Club Diablo is kindly picking up the slack this year.
Of course, the reunion I speak of is that of the band, "The Fems".
Personally, I think that during the late 80s and early 90s, I saw them one (whole) weekend every month. They'd pack them in at the Continental Friday and Saturday night, and we'd all have too much fun.
So we're all older now, but hell, we can still live through a Friday during the holidays, saying "Hi" to the friends that we hung out with back then. The Fems are still pretty damn fun.....

No Business Like Snow Business

Well, well, well; this is the first day in about a week that I haven't had to shovel snow. While we weren't hit with any one major storm (the 8-12 inches of lake-effect snow predicted a few days ago was about 4-5 inches), I shoveled seven times in the previous six days. So the lack of snow today and possibly through Christmas is rather welcome; I know that I laugh at how other locales "handle" snow and wintry weather, but I don't need to have Buffalo/Western New York keep proving how well we do. I hope the only ice I pay need to attention to for a while is that on which the Buffalo Sabres are skating and winning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

When I'm out on the Street

OK, as well as being anal in general, I absolutely hate it when people can't park correct to the point where it affects and hurts others, especially when it hurts Val or I. Our neighborhood occasionally has situations like that, with two recently involving us.
One car, a white or off-white Ford Taurus, had parked across part of our driveway during the fall, and with the fence and light pole near the mouth of the driveway, Val's car can be easily blocked in it (I usually park on the street). Well, about two weeks ago, the car had parked overnight in a position completely blocking the driveway; apparently the fence, driveway, light pole and tire tracks Val left when she went to work were a bit too subtle for the person parking the vehicle to consider. I wake up at about 6 a.m. weekdays and leave the house before 8 a.m.; when I saw the car there, I figured I would be nicer than my normal lovely morning self is and wait until I had showered, dressed, checked e-mail and went downstairs for breakfast before I called the police.
The car was still there when I got downstairs, and after I fed the dog, I called and told them the situation; they said they would send the next available car. Well, the officer drove up just before I left, so I grabbed my coat and went outside. The officer was already writing the parking ticket for the car, and I told him I was sorry to call about what might seem to be an unimportant situation; he replied that it was good that I had called, because it may take a ticket for this person to stop parking across our driveway. After I got my knapsack and coffee and was locking the front door, the alterna couple came out of a house across the street (of all the houses on our block, 30-40, three or four of them are rentals, including theirs) and got into their car, he of the oh, so nicely angled knit ski hat, she of the banana blonde dyed hair (yep, I have lost my normal patience with people by now). They got in the car, somehow not seeing the fluorescent orange ticket on the white car and snow, and after the engine started, Slappy the Driver noticed the ticket, got out, read it, and got back in the car, looking shocked before hitting the dashboard and driving away, all the while not acknowledging me standing on the porch.
The second involves an enormous white Ford pickup truck; the driver often parks it with the rear hanging way out into traffic or partly across driveways. He picked our driveway to completely block a week and a half ago for about 7 hours, and the police were unable to respond before he drove away with his girlfriend, who lives two doors down from us. I told him not to park across our driveway and asked him if it was difficult to see the driveway; he just said "Uh, sorry," without looking up and drove away. I was steaming, but eventually I was laughing, because he parked across the driveway of a house across the street and two doors down a couple of days after that; the homeowner's father, who also lives there, is a retired Buffalo Police Department detective, and I cheered as I saw the pickup truck loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

U2 Vertigo Tour stops in Bflo.

I have to say, I was more of a U2 fan in the olden days - Boy, The Unfogetable Fire, The Joshua Tree - those were big albums for me. Last night, however, I went to the Vertigo concert that stopped here with my mom, Janice. I am certainly a fan again after seeing them live. The band performed songs from the newest album. "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," but they did reach back quite a bit into the earlier material as well.
I've been glad to see Bono getting involved with global poverty and HIV issues, but there is nothing like hearing him talk about it to a sellout crowd of over 18,000. When that is mixed with the passionate live versions of their songs, it strikes a deep chord. This all from a band that grew up in a war-torn country, and knows what it's like to live without peace. Last night, when breaking into "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," which is their anti-war anthem, associated with the troubles in Ireland, Bono said "This is your song now, America." I will say, I burst into tears at that point. It has come to that. When he said something like that, or when he feigned being a blindfolded, humiliated prisoner, he did not point fingers. He did point out the good things America has done - like paying for 400,000 HIV victims in Africa to be on life saving drugs. He did let us know that the world has a lot left to do. The music was filled with enough positive energy to make people feel that it can be done.
I was not aware of the fact that U2 was in town 25 years ago last Thursday ( I guess I don't read The Buffalo News enough). Bono told the story about how he was playing a video game at Stage One when someone came up to him and told him that John Lennon had been killed. At the end of the regular set, the entire audience sang along with and ended "Help". Bono sang lines of Lennon's throughout his own songs, and played "Instant Karma" during one of the three encores. I think through the entire set, they did a good tribute.
Another nice thing was that Bono, at the end of one of the encores, said "God Bless Willie Nile." A few of us in the audience did appreciate the blessing of the local folk rock singer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

After all these years...

I remember when it happened. I was in 8th grade, and the news broke into the show I was watching. John Lennon was shot and killed in front of his New York apartment building. I will admit, I did not know a lot about him. His new songs were being played on the radio all the time, and I liked those. I knew about The Beatles, but my dad was into The Beach Boys and Herman's Hermits, so I didn't have a big Beatles background. I remember, though, the Principal of Sweet Home Junior High doing the announcements the next morning, giving a summary of the bad news, and asking for a moment of silence. I barely remember what I learned in junior high, but I remember that morning, and the night before. Unfortunately for me, it seems his death started my big interest in him. On this 25th anniversary, I just hope that when he sees the state the world is in, he's singing good thoughts to us. Imagine.

Mommy's 1st concert

I have never seen U2 live. I have tried on a few different occasions over the years, but for one reason or another, never got to go. These days, we just can't afford it. So when my Mom came across a couple of tickets and she wanted someone (who knew their way around the arena) to go with, I was more than happy. Both of us get to experience something that we never have before. I've been to a lot of arena shows over the years (many I would not describe to my Mom), and I am really looking forward to this one. First, these days, a band has really got to be worth it for the cost and the hassle. Second, seeing U2 with Mom is going to be pretty fun. She's a big lefty, and we all know that Bono leans that way, and isn't quiet about it.
I hear they've got a good show going this tour. I'll write with details. Just wish I could take pictures of this show.....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Music Reviews

Hello all.
Kevin's been listening to new CDs furiously the last few weeks. I posted a couple of reviews on, and there's more to come. A groovy new feature that has been added is the "shopping component". Next to some of the CD reviews, there is a "Buy Here" link. That will take you right to the New World Record website. There, you can hear clips of songs, or even purchase the reviewed CD! Special thanks to our friends at New World (You know who you are, Go and Elizabeth). They have the best selection of the kind of music we cover. If you don't see the link on a review, there's a link on our front page too. Kevin has some reviews on their Americana page, as well.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pausing to Protect Paws

OK, pet peeve (no pun, I swear) number one of the winter for me on the blog: people need to use less salt and other ice-melting products on their driveways, or at least use pet/animal-safe products. Buffalo certainly gets enough snow and ice during the winter, and some people seem to think the best way to clear the snow from their sidewalks and driveways is by throwing handfuls of these products out.
Well, not only do people use too much of this stuff and don't spread out what they use, leaving piles and trails of it, too much of it will eventually get to the pads and paws of dogs like our rescue pup, Walker Evans, who limped for the first time during our walk tonight. Interestingly enough, this time he got the hot foot while we crossed the street, and smartly walked on lawns where there was a lot of the salt and stuff. And don't ask a Rottweiler/German shepherd blend to wear booties.
There are several animal- (and yes, people-) safe products to fight ice and snow on driveways and sidewalks, as well as, yes, folks, shoveling and/or snow blowing the snow. I am not asking for people to stop using salt and other products, but to be careful and take everyone, human, canine, feline and others, into consideration.

Friday, December 02, 2005

No Fun, and Irked

I woke up today at 6 a.m. as usual; my throat was filled with fluid and sore, and I was a bit congested, so I called in sick. I hate calling in sick, but there was a chance I could be getting pretty sick and that I might spread something at the office, and I didn't feel like taking a chance.
After dozing off for a while, I called in sick to work, e-mailed my boss and, of course, took a look at some e-mail. Val, who was then getting up, told me to go back to bed and read e-mail later, because I needed to rest (yes, she's right, but I am stubborn). So, I went back to bed and woke up to Walker Evans, our vociferous rescue dog, barking at something while Val cleaned her car off. He then stood at the bottom of the stairs with his tail wagging, so I knew it was time to let him out and feed him.
I eventually spent several hours on the couch, under a comforter, eating breakfast, drinking coffee (I don't care, a day without coffee is next to impossible and something I don't want to experience) and watching the CFL Grey Cup game on DVR (the Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Montreal Alouettes in overtime, 38-35).
Unfortunately, I forgot that I had not only parked in the street, but on the side that would be ticketed after 9 a.m., and when I remembered, a bit after noon, I threw my coat on over my bed clothes and ran out, only to find a $30 parking ticket on my car. We live in the Elmwood Village, two blocks off of Elmwood Avenue near Bryant, and we know through experience, reading articles in the Buffalo News and from my speaking with a parking enforcement officer that we are in one of the most heavily targeted neighborhood for issuing tickets in the city; mine was timed in at 9:38 a.m., actually a bit later than I expected, and I heard nothing to warn me of this.
So, I have to go to Rite Aid for some throat stuff and still go to my mother's house to do some caulking which I planned to do right after work, and then we have an art opening tonight. No rest for the weary ...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Time Has Come Today ... or Yesterday

Just so no one here gets too confused, um, like me, for some reason, when I post to this blog, the time shown when I post an entry is a little more than 3 hours behind when I actually post. To be more confusing, for some reason, Val's posting time is fine, so I have to do something here, but I will talk more with the Boss first. If you can't tell, Val is the computer geek/genius of this enterprise (and I mean that in a very good way), and not me.

As Sweet as Tupelo Honey

Sometimes, we make what turn out to be pretty good decisions even when we're not so sure we had the ability to make such a good decision. One of mine was being a major fan of Van Morrison since my early teenage years.
So, I was pretty happy when I got a review CD from Elizabeth and Govindan Kartha, our very good friends at New World Record on Elmwood Avenue, recently; New World Record is the first entity we entered an underwriting/sponsor agreement with at, and happily and proudly did so. The CD, Magic Time, is pretty good, and indeed, is one of those CDs which improves with repeated play/listening. The songs that stand out to me include "Celtic New Year," "They Sold Me Out" and "Just Like Greta," and Morrison sounds best here when he relaxes, which is most of the time, and often he is in elegiac R&B, jazz and Celtic moods.
Val was good enough to get me two Morrison CDs recently reissued, Tupelo Honey and Veedon Fleece, among other gifts for our anniversary in June, and they join Moondance as probably my favorite Morrison recordings, but you won't go wrong in getting Magic Time.

It's a Rock Show (or Two)

Actually, two shows caught my attention today; neither one coming to Buffalo, but one close enough to ponder.
Earlier tonight, I checked and after not being overly enthralled with the listings for Buffalo, its environs, Niagara Falls and Rochester, I checked Toronto. On May 2, 2006, at the Air Canada Centre, Willie Nelson and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are scheduled to perform, and tickets are listed at $59.50 and $69.50 Canadian. Not bad, but, of course, tickets go on sale in a day or so.
And while watching the New York Knicks-Chicago Bulls basketball game (I am a long-suffering Knicks and former Buffalo Braves fan, while Val, born and bred in Chicago before moving to Wisconsin, is the Bulls fan), we saw a commercial for the Black Crows to play Madison Square Garden, although I did not catch the date. The opening bands? North Mississippi All-Stars, a band I have missed when it played Buffalo and desperately want to catch, and My Morning Jacket, a band I am one of the few to not be impressed by (see my review of them opening for Wilco at but Val likes.
Well, at least I just received an e-mail from Michael Tarbox announcing a January 27, 2006, Tarbox Ramblers show at Mohawk Place here.