Sunday, January 23, 2011

Police blotter.

Saturday, 6:21 P.M.: Report of finding a bluejay in a cage under a dock.

Sunday, 3:41 A.M.: Report of male hit over the head with a beer bottle.

Monday, 9:12 P.M.:
Report of neighbor plowing area with caller displeased that he was plowing in front of her house.

Tuesday, 8:15 A.M.: Report of plastic bag with two cleaned fish left at door of home.

Tuesday, 9:00 A.M.: Caller reported seeing someone dragging a deer home behind a lawn mower.

Friday, 6:20 P.M.: Report of 7 year-old male leaving house unattended after getting upset over a video game, an ongoing problem. Update: Child found and dropped off with his mother.

Friday, 8:54 P.M.: Report of vehicle in ditch near Maslowski Beach. Update: Vehicle, a 2-wheel drive sedan, was indeed stuck.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Recent goings-on:

This year's nativity scene.

Christmas! This year's nativity scene (hidden in the basement, far from Grandma's watchful eye) featured seven Baby Jesuses (Jesi?), a new household record. Like I always say, if one Baby Jesus is good, then seven must be really good, right? The wise men were kind enough to bring gifts this year, too.

The Three Wise Men.

Our family Christmas Eve proved most wholesome. Brother Nick acquired several new moustaches to wear on his nights of carousing in Duluth, and we all bore witness to a Christmas miracle as Toivo the Wonder Cat suddenly took a shine to Brother Dewey (who happened to bring Toivo a jar of cat treats for Christmas, but I'm sure that was just a coincidence).

St. Nick. Peace on earth, good will toward Toivo.

The family also enjoyed a bone-snappingly-cold jaunt through Bentleyville in Duluth earlier in December. I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. If I lived in Duluth, I'd go every night. Seriously, if you're in the area, go next year, you won't be sorry. (Just bundle up!)

Bentleyville! The Twelve Days of Christmas.


We didn't dress Toivo in his Santa suit for Christmas this year, but fortunately, I remembered to dig it out by New Year's Eve. (Well, I guess he wasn't thankful for that.)

Beefcake shot.

(Look at his gut popping out...mere Velcro can't contain a force of such magnitude. I really should start a line of big & tall cat costumes - I think that's a market just waiting to be tapped.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Thirty.

Day 30 -
Your favorite song at this time last year: "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants

To be honest, I have no idea what my favorite song was at this time last year.
But I always like this one, so it'll have to do.

The End.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Nine.

Day 29 -
A song from your childhood: "Dare to be Stupid" by Weird Al Yankovic

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I listened to a lot of Weird Al when I was growing up.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Eight.

Day 28 -
A song that reminds you that you have a softer side: "Staralfur" by Sigur Ros

Particularly as it was used in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Seven.

Day 27 -
A song that you wish you could play: Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J.S. Bach

If I could play the organ, and if I could play this, I'd play it every time someone walked into my lair.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Six.

Day 26 -
A song that you can play on an instrument: Sonata No. 6, 3rd & 4th Movements by Vivaldi

(I played this on the bass clarinet, but I played the part the flute's playing...just, uh, not quite that fast.)

To say I was a bit of a band geek in high school is an understatement.

I hung out in the hallway by the band room before school every morning and spent all my study halls in there. I never missed a night of pep band unless I was doing a play or had something I couldn't get out of (even though I hated sports and don't think I hardly ever stayed in the gym or by the football field long enough to see the end of a game after we were done playing), and even came back for alumni pep bands over Christmas breaks after I'd graduated. I joined the jazz band (even though I really didn't give a crap about jazz). When other school clubs painted store windows along Main Street for the homecoming football game, me & my friends painted one rooting the band on, not the football team. I threw "office parties" in the band room on the stair where I unloaded my bass clarinet every day. And as far as I know, a ridiculous portrait me & my friend Emily had taken at Walmart in the mid-90s (in matching rainbow sweaters) is still hanging in our former band director's office.

I wasn't the geekiest band geek I knew, but still, I was a pretty big band geek.

And I wasn't the best musician in the world, either. I mean, I was a pretty decent bass clarinet player, in that I could get a good sound out of my instrument and didn't usually have much trouble mastering my parts. But I didn't have the technical abilities a lot of my friends had on their instruments, probably because most bass clarinet parts just aren't all that challenging so there weren't all that many occasions I had to rise to. (Not in the songs the average high school band's playing, anyway.) It's a lot of dut-dut-dut, as we used to say - bass lines. Quarter notes on the beat, like a tuba in an oompah band. Sure, there were busier parts in some songs, but most of the time it was me, the tuba player, and the bari sax player, all going dut-dut-dut.

Despite my critical self-assessment, when I was a sophomore my band director was convinced I was ready to tackle a Class A solo for the annual solo/ensemble music competition in our region. Solo/ensemble was in two phases; first, a "local" competition day (ours usually happened somewhere within an hour's radius of Ashland), and then, if you did a Class A piece and got a "starred 1st" (quite literally, a "1st" with a star drawn next to it on the results sheet), you went on to "state" (which, for us, was in Eau Claire, although I think other parts of the state were funneled to Madison, Milwaukee, etc.). I didn't think I was ready, but Mrs. H picked out a solo and encouraged me to go for it, so I did...with modest expectations.

The day of the local competition came - we all climbed on school buses, rode over to Washburn or Solon Springs or someplace like that, and then things got interesting. Most of us who got talked into doing one song wound up playing with other groups throughout the day - I was the only bass clarinetist at AHS for a couple of years, so I got roped into clarinet quartets and crap like that - so there was a lot of frenzied running from room to room, swapping out instruments (I was usually lugging a tenor sax with me all day, too, so I could honk away in the jazz band) and scurrying over to check the results as the hours went by. It was band geek heaven.

Well, the time came for me to play my song. I had taken to the first half of it right away (the 3rd movement) - it was low and slow and that was right up my alley. (Low notes are the whole point of a bass clarinet, aren't they?) And I was really good at playing that part. But the 4th movement...well, it was high. And fast. And years of dut-dut-dutting hadn't made my lazy fingers terribly nimble. I went in, did my best, and walked out figuring eh, it'd been fun, and the jazz band would probably get a starred 1st, so I'd get to go to Eau Claire either way.

I went on with my day, running from performance to performance, and didn't give the results board much thought until I'd finished my last song. Good news always shot through the halls pretty fast, anyway - yep, I heard the jazz band was going to state, along with a bunch of other stuff my friends were in, so I was set. As everything was winding down, and people were getting ready to load up the buses to head home, I went over to the boards and holy balls, I'd gotten a starred 1st.

To be honest, I really don't remember much about playing my song in Eau Claire - I think I got a 2nd there, or something like that. I was just so happy to have made it that far that by then, I didn't care what anyone thought of it.

I played solos in my junior and senior years, too, but never got another starred 1st. I didn't like the other songs as much as I liked the Vivaldi, and as I got further along in high school, I had more cluttering my plate (more theater stuff, yearbook, clubs & junk) so I didn't have quite as much time to devote to practicing as I did for the first one. As long as I was in a group that made it to Eau Claire, I was happy.

My bass clarinet is parked in my closet nowadays, and it doesn't get around much anymore. I played for a few semesters in college, until I got bored and put all my eggs in the English major basket. During my summers at home, I played with the city band until I moved to Montana, where me & Emily spent one summer toiling away in Helena's city band (it wasn't nearly as freewheelin' or fun as the one we'd grown up with in Ashland). When I moved back to Ashland, I joined the city band again, and even though I feel awkward being just about the only member who isn't a high schooler or a high school band teacher, I know bass clarinetists are few & far between, so I look at it as fulfilling my civic duty.

And when I sit down each summer with my instrument in my hands, holy balls, I still know that whole 3rd movement by heart. I think it took up the space in my brain where algebra was supposed to go, but oh well. I haven't needed algebra yet.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Five.

Day 25 -
A song that makes you laugh: "Rusty Chevrolet" by Da Yoopers

When I lived in Montana and got homesick for the Mother Country, this is one of the songs I'd listen to. We're not technically Yoopers where I grew up, but we have more in common with da U.P. than we do with the southern 2/3rds of Wisconsin, really.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Four.

Day 24

A song that you want to play at your funeral: "Happy Trails" by Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

I stole this from my mom, who's already called dibs.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"The Enemy Within."

The Colbert Report was back from its holiday hiatus last night, and it was in rare form.

(This is where I would've embedded the clip, if only the code worked. Alas!)

"I definitely do think a cat could be trained to shoot a gun. I think there would be a lot of intermediate steps before getting to that point..."

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Three.

Day 23 -
A song that you want to play at your wedding: "Beer Barrel Polka"

I have these vague recollections of a wedding I went to out in Moquah when I was a little kid - I don't remember whose it was (a friend of my mother's, I think?), and I don't recall how old I was, but there are little details that still stand out. The bride dancing around the beer hall with no shoes on, my grandma stuffing me full of wedding cake, drinking pop out of big plastic cups, dancing the butterfly polka with my cousins, running around on the playground by the town hall as the sun was laid-back, relaxed, and really fun. If I ever get married, that's definitely the vibe I'll be going for, and nothing says fun in Wisconsin like the "Beer Barrel Polka." You can't have a proper wedding without it!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-Two.

Day 22 -
A song that you listen to when you're sad: "Made for TV Movie" by Clem Snide

To borrow a line from The Simpsons, Clem Snide's lyrics often walk that fine line between the "tragically ludicrous and the ludicrously tragic." You don't know whether to laugh or cry, and in this clip, you can actually hear the audience's divergent reactions when he gets to the line about beating her "like a conga drum." It's funny, and it's awfully sad.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

"You may lick your bride."

This was the best part of my New Year's Eve.

So much so that I tried taping it - twice - but both times, the onscreen guide was messed-up
and the VCR timer cut off before the big event. Thank god for the internet.

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty-One.

Day 21
A song that you listen to when you're happy: "Foux Da Fa Fa" by Flight of the Conchords

They really captured the crappiness of all the awful language instruction videos
I had to watch in high school Spanish class.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Thirty Days of Music: Day Twenty.

Day 20 -
A song that you listen to when you're angry: "Common People" by William Shatner

I've heard this version, and I've heard the original by Pulp, and
I'm pretty sure this one blows the other one out of the water.