Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's Cold and Flu Season

We were planning on attending the opening and post-opening party for artist/good friend Mary Begley Friday night, but Val has been hit hard by her first major cold of the season and is battling major congestion, snot infestation and so on, and she has been in this fight since about Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
Between her other health concerns and the fact that her IVIG treatment was late by a week or so again due to a shortage of blood products, as well as the fact that her weekly MS injectable medication was two weeks late because the new prescription provider on my insurance changed the system to one of home delivery from Val getting it at the pharmacy, colds are a serious pain in the ass for her (remember, MS is an autoimmune disease). I hate this both for having her suffer through this and being able to do little to help her besides pour her shots of Nyquil.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Girlpope Still Making Waves

The band may have sadly broken up, but Girlpope, the hard rocking power pop king of Buffalo, hasn't yet gone away and just achieved some national notoriety.
"(Hey, Let's' Hear It for) The Local Girl," a popular song from the band's debut "Cheeses of Nazareth" CD, was played on ABC's "Men in Trees" during its Monday night, September 25, episode, apparently during a date auction scene. I did not hear about this until today, and like most people, I was watching the New Orleans-Atlanta Monday Night Football game. While all of the members have other musical commitments, it would be great to see Girlpope, originally Mark Norris on guitar and vocals, Rich Campagna on bass and vocals and Brandon Delmont on drums, and later joined by Tom Stanford on guitar, saxophone and keyboards (I think), reform. Stay tuned.

Television Question

I just saw a commercial and a few scenes from a television program I have never watched a full episode of; is "The Gilmore Girls" always that awful, from the script to the acting and the fake punches? My God, I hope not.
The horror ... the horror ...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

BloggerCon 5/Oktoberfest




Val and I joined a sizable contingent of bloggers and many other people at the Central Terminal Saturday for the Oktoberfest and BloggerCon 5 and had a great time. As usual, excellent conversations, often with people we've never met or really talked to before, sprung up. LC Scotty, Mike and (I think) Shades of Gray had fun talks about coffee, beer and food, and Buffalo Pundit and I had some fun discussing things of various natures and shared interests. And yes, Geek, pizza frequently came up, including the upcoming taste test.
Derek and Amanda Punaro, who basically served as our hosts as well as worked for/with the Central Terminal Restoration Committee, did a great job and deserve thanks for making us bloggers feel at home, including with signs for BloggerCon 5 reserving our table. They were busy throughout Oktoberfest, and Amanda deserves applause for wearing her "German beer wench" outfit, as, someone called it.
The Central Terminal remains a real treasure and a building worth fighting for, and Derek, Amanda and their cohorts with the CTRC deserve thanks and credit for leading a good fight that must also be a long, hard and sometimes discouraging struggle. Buffalo Pundit and a few other people made the smart observation that the Central Terminal is so much better a place for large gatherings than the Buffalo Convention Center, which has all the charm of a correctional facility and livestock pen.
But the fun of the evening is what we all remember; while my drinking days are long gone, I was fortunate to spend time as a member of the Buffalo-Dortmund Sister City Exchange in Germany, and fondly remember the beer, especially dark beer, as well as singing rounds of "Ein Prosit." Thank you again to everyone who contributed to the fun.

Time to Get off My Butt

There are a lot of things I want to write about and haven't, and more are coming, so I am sorry for not being as diligent as I should be in my blogging (and other writing) and I will be bugging you readers with more stuff pretty soon. Yes, we've been busy, but not THAT busy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More Weather Info Than I Need to Know

I know that there is a reasonable, scientific explanation and meteorological necessity for it, but was anyone else pissed off and wondering if weather forecasters were talking out of their collective asses like I thought when the term "lake effect rain" was used over the last few days?

Our Take on the Sabres New Logo, Uniforms

Val and I joined thousands of Western New Yorkers and Southern Ontarians at the Buffalo Sabres' open practice and new uniform unveiling Saturday. We had a great time, formed some new opinions but still hold others.
We still believe that the new logo, the legless Buffalo/bison that resembles a (fill in the blank with your favorite rueful joke here), remains hideously ugly, even with the addition of "Buffalo Sabres" to the logo's, um, form. Some people said to wait until we saw the logo on the new uniform; we did, and it is still unpleasant to look at and amateurish, to say the least.
Otherwise, we like the new uniforms, from the colors to the design. The blue and gold/yellow, while following to a certain extent the old color scheme, are different enough from the old colors to qualify as a change and look pretty good; design wise, it looks modern enough to appeal to those people who want things with more, er zip, but I do not feel it hurts the eyes and certainly doesn't enter the realm of the virtual-pajama Vancouver Canucks' uniforms.
But, the question remains, will Val or I be buying any of the hats, jerseys, shirts, sweatshirts or other merchandise with the new logo? As of now, no, we will not be buying any of the new logo merchandise; it is simply too damn ugly. We do plan on buying some of the third jersey merchandise, the old blue and gold Sabres' uniform, and since I have always liked the Sabres black and red/orange uniforms (and never thought the previous logo looked like a goat head), I may look for some marked-down merchandise. I am also surprised at the recent venom I have noticed in some places to the red and black, crossed-Sabres uniform (which Val has a Rob Ray jersey of), which I also like.
At the practice itself, we noticed a lot of new logo hats at first, then t-shirts, and then a parade of jerseys; indeed, the jerseys sold out fast, and when we went to the Sabres Store after the practice/scrimmage, the line went back to almost the middle of the lobby. We talked with friends until the line shortened, and for those of you who have read this blog for a while or know some of my past, you may get as much of a charge out of this as I did. As we talked to Roza and her family, I looked at the long lines at the checkout and, low and behold, the first person I saw was she who shall be called "My Eight-Year Sentence." It is amazing how much of a Buffalo Sabres fan she has become these last few years.
During the beginning of the first scrimmage period, we got a view of the infamous pink-on-white uniforms with the new logo; wow, that is one ugly uniform. But the only protest on the new logo or uniforms we saw was four people in the 200s behind one goal who had a "WTF?" sign. On the good response side, rookie Michael Ryan played a very strong scrimmage; scoring a goal, buzzing around the net, hitting people and showing a lot of hustle, he got a good response from the crowd.
In the end, we had a lot of fun and are glad that the Sabres' regular season will start in less than a month.

Monday, September 18, 2006

DOCUMENT-TERRY

Got a great email in the Buffaloroots inbox today. Terry Sullivan has a documentary/video filmed by Jim Grimaldi on You Tube. This is for all rocknroll lovers- especially the Buffalo crowd! We'll have a review of "THEErthMoovesaroundTHEsun" soon....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Hate Missing Some Shows

Due to financial straits and time commitments, I was unable to catch avant garde noise/rock musician and composer Rhys Chatham's performance at Sound Lab this weekend. I have been a big fans of Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca and Band of Susans for years, and a fan of Chatham in the last few years, so you can see how my punk, rock and classical music listening, experiences and even training in one area can blend.
On a better note, I was searching on Amazon.com and checked out Rhys Chatham; among other releases, I found (in the past few years, I have not been able to find more than 1 or 2 on Amazon) 7 items listed, including one, "Die Donnergotter" ("The Thundergods"), I have sought for years. Yes, it is on my birthday gift list.

Primary Day Redux

Sorry to catch up on Primary Day so late; some things went very good Tuesday, and some results were quite disappointing to Val and I.
On the good side, Val and I were re-elected as Democratic committee people; I will be serving my second term and Val will be serving her third term. We were opposed by candidates from a group which also challenged our petition signatures, but the Erie County Board of Elections' decision ruled all of our signatures as valid. In the voting, Val received 39 votes, I received 37 votes (all of the campaigning I did may have made a few people sick of me) and our opponents received 11 and 7 votes, respectively, so apparently, the voters in our district on the West Side believed we earned another term.
Unfortunately, the candidate Val and I did the most campaigning for, State Senator Marc Coppola, was defeated by Buffalo Common Councilmember Antoine Thompson by a substantial margin; Coppola's second cousin, former Common Councilmember and short-time State Senator Al Coppola, finished a distant third, and while many of us thought Al would have performed nothing but a spoiler role, Thompson earned more than enough votes to outdistance the total votes both Coppolas received. Marc Coppola did a fine job for us while he was our Common Councilmember (sadly, he was redistricted away from our part of the Elmwood Village) and did the same as our sadly short-lived State Senator.
I know some people may think of us as "machine" supporters or of the status quo, but that is simply not true. As residents of the West Side of Buffalo, as well as home/property owners and active Democrats, we made our decision and strongly, and more importantly, proudly, supported Marc Coppola. But Antoine Thompson and his supporters ran a good campaign and got their people out to vote.
Marc Coppola said Tuesday night that this was not the last we would see and hear of him, and Val and I would welcome him back in future political endeavors.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's a Sabres Morning

Val and I will be among the thousands of hockey fans heading down to the HSBC Arena this morning to check out the new Buffalo Sabres logo and uniforms as part of the Sabres' open practice. Neither Val nor I like the new logo at all (f***ing ugly comes to mind), and the new colors seem pretty good, but we are holding our final opinions and commentary on the new uniforms until we see them live and on actual Buffalo Sabres.
We assume that we'll see some other bloggers down at the HSBC, and with my birthday less than a month away, I will be doing some window shopping of sorts. We are both wearing Sabres' garb (long-sleeve red and black polo shirt, red and black boxers and my classic, apparent third-uniform blue and gold hat; red and black sweater and cream, red and black hat for Val), and on the look out for more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sinking in The Lake

I've been nice and nasty to 107.7 FM The Lake, which is my favorite broadcast radio station for music in the Buffalo/Western New York market. But at times, I have to wonder if I am listening to the worst of 97 Rock or other stations.
While I was driving home from work today, I had The Lake on the radio when the opening chords of "Show Me the Way" by Peter Frampton could be heard. Peter Frampton? PETER FUCKING FRAMPTON? I guess I could understand if The Lake would play some of the less overplayed music of Frampton, either solo, with Humble Pie or Frampton's Camel, but "Show Me the Way" has been played so many times on so many different stations in so many different formats that it is closing in on the joke status of shouting out a request for "Freebird" at a concert.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary Day

Been busy with all sorts of things political today, so a couple of posts will have to wait a day or so; I'm actually home on a feeding-the-dog break. I or we should have some stuff to report on later.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lost in the Supermarket, Again

I seem to spend more time than I would expect in grocery stores, so I notice things such as what kind of music is played there. Wegmans has been the best over the years, but that is mainly because music at Tops is usually abysmal; not that Wegmans is like Sirius Radio, but it can be tolerable, and otherwise, I can blot most noise out when grocery shopping.
So, when I stopped to pick up something at Latina's on Elmwood Avenue on the way home from work today, I was pleasantly surprised that while I was in line waiting, I heard Bryan Ferry's "Don't Stop the Dance" playing. A nice, cool, pretty good song that should offend no one, it and much of Ferry's catalog would sound great at most grocery stores instead of the usual dreck we hear, particularly Latina's, which usually plays (when I notice) Top 40, urban and oldies. Some combination.
If you've heard better music in grocery or other stores (music stores obviously excluded), let me know.

Five Years, Stephen; Five Damn Years

I commend the activity organized by bloggers to remember the 2,996 confirmed victims of 9/11, and thank Kim Thompson of KT in Buffalo for bringing it to my attention. It was too late for me to take part, but I am not sure that I could have.
Five years later, and I still have some difficulty writing as good as I would like about my good friend from Buffalo State College, Stephen G. Hoffman, who was killed on 9/11; he worked for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center. Stephen was truly one of those persons whose smile and laugh could light up a room and lift everyone's spirits, and he had a real joy for life, which included activities from intramural sports and United Students Government to being a residents' assistant, the first two of which I shared a lot of time with him and his twin brother, Gregory, another great person.
As bad as I felt watching the events occur on 9/11 and covering them here in Buffalo/Western New York, I felt an incredible emptiness in my stomach and pain in my heart when I received a call a few days later from Stu Herlan, another friend from Buffalo State, telling me of Steve.
My heart continues to go out to Stephen's family, including Greg; his wife, Gabrielle, who he met at Buffalo State, and his daughter, Madeline, as well as to all friends and family members of the victims of 9/11.
What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Musical Reconsideration

Like most people who really love music and have an extensive, continued connection with music and the good fortune to have the opportunity for receiving new recordings that writing creates for me, you get to hear a lot of music, by choice, assignment and having it sent in from bands and promoters, often unsolicited.
While I try to listen to everything I acquire by choice as much as possible before forming an opinion about it, too frequently I listen to this music less than I would otherwise chose because of assignments and trying to listen to the other music I receive. Not counting about 10-15 newly received CDs and about 5-10 Buffalo/Western New York CDs I received in the last year, I have accumulated about 30 CDs in the last year or two I would in some way like to review or address (freelance or web site, Buffaloroots). Finally, there are all of the CDs I have received as gifts or bought/obtained in some way, and there are also the songs and CDs I have acquired through iTunes. None of this counts the music Val receives that falls outside all of these categories.
I am describing this to help set up some second thoughts I am having on some releases I previously formed opinions about; part of the reason I listened to these recordings again is because they are by two of my favorite music acts and I had the inclination to give them second chances, so to speak.
The two recordings in question are "Real Gone" by Tom Waits and "Murray Street" by Sonic Youth; I started listening to Tom Waits and Sonic Youth more than 25 years ago. I liked both of these recordings when they came out, but neither one entertained me enough to rise anywhere near the top of my favorite works by either act. I believe that Tom Waits' best work can be heard on "Frank's Wild Years," "Small Change," "Swordfishtrombones," "Closing Time" and, to round out a top 5, "Mule Variations." "Real Gone" uses some parts/influences of each, from dissonance to angry/confused words, battered arrangements and scraped-up blues and jazz, and while I like it more now than before, it offers nothing really new or better than his previous work.
"Murray Street" by Sonic Youth finds itself, to my ears, in some of the same situations as "Real Gone." The CD uses some of Sonic Youth's noise/art/punk rock with a little bit of the classic "pig fuck" sound and dissonance, feedback and even some skronk, but adds more melody and song structure, an approach Sonic Youth has used more in recent years but started appearing clearly on "Daydream Nation," one of the band's best recordings, along with "Bad Moon Rising," "Confusion Is Sex/Kill Yr. Idols" and "A Thousand Leaves." Again, it is good, and I like it more now than before (the melodic/noise counterpoint works), and it certainly is better than "Sonic Nurse," but it won't enter the Sonic Youth pantheon.
I've definitely progressed from when I as a child and wondered why anyone would own and actually listen to more than one album by a band; indeed, the new Sonic Youth CD, "Rather Ripped," will probably be on my birthday gift list next month.
Phew; when I first thought of this topic, this was supposed to be a two-paragraph entry.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gone for Good or on Hiatus?

Sadly, it looks like Pop Culture Is My Curse is leaving the Buffalo Blogosphere at least for a vacation, and possibly in a permanent manner. Let's hope Cliff comes back with it something else soon.

Bring Back the Original

How many of you are like me and hear the current Aspercreme commercial, with the tag line, "You bet if it's Aspercreme," and wish they would go back to the previous line, "You bet your sweet Aspercreme." I almost fell off the couch laughing the first time I heard that advertisement, it was so dumb, crass, unexpected, out of place and, well, funny.

Thumbs Up to 107.7 The Lake

I hope people don't think that because I have criticized 107.7 FM The Lake that I do not like the station; it is by far the best commercial music station in the Buffalo market, in my opinion, and I commend the station for its approach to music and listeners, an intelligent one that doesn't patronize or go for the easy answer.
In fact, I have another specific compliment to The Lake; I have heard several songs recently off the new CD by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler, All the Roadrunning, on The Lake, something I have not heard elsewhere in this market, commercial radio or other wise (if you have heard anyone else play this, please let me know). Keep up the good work.

Life After Black Flag

I finally caught The Henry Rollins Show on IFC, and wow, is it good. I was/am a massive Black Flag fan and got to catch the band live at Buffalo State College in 1985, but I have been up and down/on and off with his solo and band projects since then.
I have never been a fan of Rollins' spoken word performances for more than 3-5 minutes at a time, but on The Henry Rollins Show, Rollins is funny, intelligent, all but brutally honest and does quite well in exchanges with his guest; he seemed to enjoy himself with comedian Patton Oswalt, and you could tell with his questions that Rollins had not only done his research, but was closely listening to Oswalt's answers. It seems that Rollins works better interacting with another person than on his own.
His "Letter to the FCC" was also smart, humorous and on the mark, and the occasional "fuck" in his speech and writing is a natural part of his manner of communication.

Back on Track Soon

We apologize for the lack of posting over the last few days, but this was a very busy weekend, mostly at home, between furniture moving, rug switching/laying down, cleaning, writing and so on; oh, yes, and finding and watching Wisconsin defeat Bowling Green in college football, 35-14. Also, Val had to work Memorial Day, so don't bring that up with her.
We will be writing about a bunch of topics soon, including food and shopping, and no doubt more musical things, so thanks for staying tuned.

Read All About It - Los Lobos, That Is

Our review and photos of the Los Lobos concert at Artpark in Lewiston from last week are now posted at Buffaloroots.com. Val is still a bit unhappy that no one responded to her repeated requests for a photo pass and had to take her smaller digital camera to the show instead of her digital SLR.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

ESPNU Loss Worse Than NFL Network Loss

The change started by Adelphia and being continued by Time Warner that, for the moment, means the end of the NFL Network and ESPNU on our televisions will effect our household differently than it seems like most people are complaining about right now.
Frankly, I am not a big fan of the NFL Network; its coverage of this year's NFL draft was adequate at best, and at times it seems like a rest home for former players who think they have broadcast talent but other networks have either passed them over or given them chances and disagree about the talent. Even the NFL Network's projected star anchor, Rich Eisen, was really the redheaded stepchild of the anchor talent when he was at ESPN, finishing a poor third to, for example, Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. And for the love of some supreme being, stop the stupid cheerleader "reality" program; it is insulting and uninteresting to most people, and to those guys and gals who are attracted to the jiggling flesh, they can just go down the channel list and see much more of it on Showtime, etc.
It is ESPNU that I will be missing, particularly during college football and basketball seasons. ESPNU has been very friendly to the Big Ten Conference (many of you readers know that this is a major University of Wisconsin household) as well as conferences not often gaining major network attention, and the University of Buffalo has been fortunate to gain some live game attention, particularly in men's basketball.
So I am hoping against hope that Time Warner and ESPNU will come to an agreement soon, and while I sympathize with NFL Network viewers, I get more than enough Buffalo Bills and NFL coverage from the local stations, the major networks and ESPN.