Music Monday – CNR

Everybody is talking about how “Weird Al” Yankovic has the number one album with Mandatory Fun. It’s not only his first number one album, it debuted in that position, and it is the first comedy album to occupy that spot since 1963.

It’s about time.

But I don’t want to highlight any of that. Instead I want to showcase a song off of his previous album, Alpocalypse, and one of my absolute all-time favorite Yankovic songs.


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A friend came over to pick up Déla for a playdate while Tevye was simply just being very vocal about not feeling good. Laura told our friend that he had just had some vaccinations.

Discussion then turned to how vaccines have advanced, with new ones coming and even how now, such as this morning, three different vaccinations can be combined into one shot when just a few years ago many of them had to be administered individually.

We then relayed a story to our friend about how one time August required six different shots for his vaccinations. The nurse spent 10 minutes prepping everything and we were wondering what was taking so long. Suddenly she just started poking him with the needles and in about 20 seconds everything was done, including little bandages over where he got shots. It was over before he could even cry about the first one.

As we tell this story our friend turns to August and tells him not to worry, that she will prevent us from telling stories like this at his wedding. Chances are we’ll have forgotten about these types of stories anyway.

But that’s why I blog.

So I don’t forget.

And now I have no excuse not to remember this story at August’s wedding.

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Music Monday: Devo (Part 2)

Last week I started to go a bit more in-depth about my relationship with the band Devo. One of the two tattoos I have is inspired by the band as is the name of this blog.

Wednesday night the band was in town for their Hardcore Devo Tour. There were only 10 stops on this tour which exhumed songs from 1974-1977, the period of time before the band’s debut album arrived.

Songs featured were from the recently rereleased compilation album Hardcore Devo, previously available in two volumes now combined into a double album. Yes, there were songs like “Uncontrollable Urge”, “Jocko Homo” or even my personal favorite “Be Stiff” but the emphasis was on the (much) lesser known songs such as “Midget” or “Social Fools”. Here is the latter.

What I really liked about the set, other than the wealth of songs the crowd couldn’t sing along to, was the presentation – in chronological order. Devo presented a 2 hour history of the band. They started out in the basement with songs from 1974 and 1975 on through to 1976 and 1977 with props the band used at the time.

With no opening band Devo took the stage a little after 8 and played for about 2 hours. It was a fantastic set and I wish I had gotten pictures. My phone’s battery died and I didn’t bring my regular camera.

Here in “Midget.”

Two types of tickets were available for purchase to this concert. the regular admission ticket and a much more expensive VIP package which included a meet and greet with the band. Unfortunately the tickets to meet the band sold out so I only had the general admission ticket. I would have really liked to have met the band, had them sign my New Traditionalists LP and thank them.

Of course I somehow found a way into the meet and greet. The less said the better.

hardcore devo posterWanting something for the band to sign I ran to the merchandise table and picked up the (rather expensive but very nicely printed) poster for the tour. I stood in line and waited my turn. First up was Mark Mothersbaugh. He drew on my poster and I told him I started this blog and titled it inspired by the Devo song. He seemed a little surprised, but was cool with it. I shook his hand and thanking him for the inspiration the band has provided over the years. Sitting next to him was Bob Mothersbaugh (Bob 1) and he heard a bit of our conversation and noticed my tattoo as I shook Mark’s hand. He smiled and laughed approvingly then signed my poster.

Next to him was Josh Freese who is at this point as much a member of the band as anybody. While he isn’t the original drummer his time behind the kit has been longer than even original drummer Alan Myers. Finally Gerry Casale. He seemed touched when I told him the inspiration for my blog’s title. When I thanked him for the inspiration the band has provided over the years his response was “That’s the point, isn’t it?” As I was being told to move along (a little roughly probably because the security guys finally figured out I wasn’t supposed to be there) I got to give condolences to Gerry about his brother.

Of the three times I have seen Devo this was my favorite. Each of the three performances were fantastic, but getting to meet the band, tell them to their face how they directly inspired me on top of a fantastic performance of rarely heard songs makes this my favorite.

“Fountain Of Filth”

Now if only the band would release a live album from this tour. Please.

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Music Monday: Devo (Part 1)

I have touched upon my relationship with the band Devo before, and I guess it is time to further explore this a bit more.

My initial introduction to the band was a library copy of the 1981 LP New Traditionalists. Sure I had heard “Whip It” on the radio, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1982 that I heard a full album and was struck with just how different the sound was. I was still in the throws of my “classic rock” phase, and would be for quite some time, but that album stayed with me. Literally. I wound up paying the replacement fee rather than return it.

The album’s lead track was a declaration, and one I identified with. Be yourself. Here it is, “Through Being Cool”

Along with the music there was a visual component to the band. This was a group that truly embraced the medium of the short form music video as well as the long form. There would be a few VHS tapes released that would string together some of the various shorts together with a theme, usually railing against corporate overlords, conformity, or just getting the girl.

It wasn’t until the late 80s that I truly got into the band. After a brief hiatus the band returned with 1988′s Total Devo, By this time I had become a fan of the band, acquiring a couple of albums, but this was the one that cemented it for me. Heck, I even have a tattoo taken from this album cover.

The follow-up, 1990′s Smooth Noodle Maps included the song that would inspire this blog’s title.

It wasn’t until 1996 that I would get to see the band. After another hiatus, one that was much longer with only sporadic output the band sort of returned in force with a CD-ROM project and soundtrack, Adventures Of The Smart Patrol as well as having new recordings on the soundtracks to SuperCop and The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie – the latter of which includes one of the best and underrated songs in the whole of the DEVO catalog – “Are You Ready?”

The Lollapalooza lineup in 1996 I saw included Devo, The Ramones, Rancid, and several others. We left before the headliners (Metallica) came on. We were there to see Devo and The Ramones. It was a fantastic, if short, set, and I had begun hunting for all the appearances the band had accrued on various soundtracks and whatnot.

Another period of dormancy followed.

Of course this was followed by another period of output a few years later, including a full tour, which is when I got to see the band again. Then after a long time a new, full, proper album was released. Something For Everybody is easily one of the best Devo albums, and I say this not because I’m a fan, but because it really is a great cohesive batch of songs. The sort of follow-up, a collection of demos and rejects, Something Else For Everybody, clearly isn’t up to the same level, despite being enjoyable. I have probably listened to Something For Everybody more over the last couple of years than I have New Traditionalists over the last 20. Here is “Please Baby Please” from Something For Everybody.

And after some setbacks the band is set to tour, perhaps for the last time. It will be my third time seeing Devo, and in a capacity I am very excited about. Instead of revisiting just the old hits, the band will be revisiting their roots with pre-record deal versions of their songs as well as some numbers that never made it to wide circulation. But that is a blog post for the second part, next week.


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Discussing The Changes

Puberty can be a difficult subject to discuss. It is such a wide-ranging and encompassing change that just one conversation won’t cover it. Add to that the awkwardness of sitting down and actually having the discussion.

Yeah, many of us parents sort of blunder through it.

Along comes an outside agency and puts everybody on an equal footing of discomfort.

I recently had the opportunity to take August to a 2 day talk about puberty and the changes boys go through. Great Conversations has been leading talks and workshops for about 20 years, and this was a fantastic introduction for August to the changes his body is about to undergo. All of the awkwardness and questions he has about this subject may not have been answered but he (and I) was given an opportunity to revisit this topic and have more discussions and questions answered.

Great Conversations spends two afternoons or evenings, usually about a week or so apart, and about 90 minutes each session, simply going through the facts. What is puberty? Who goes through it? How does it change you? Is this normal?

And yes, they touch on some basics of sex.

Awkward? Sure it was. I mean, having somebody else standing in front of a crowd of 25 or so dads and their sons discussing pubic hair and body odor, well, it can be awkward even in the best of circumstances, but in a group setting? At least it helped knowing that everybody else was feeling pretty much the same thing.

That’s what is so good about the Great Conversations sessions – the rough edges are blunted by the group setting but the right information still gets where it needs to go.

One of the nice things about these also is that it isn’t meant to take the place of any discussions you would have with your child. Instead these are augmentations and conversation starters. These aren’t meant to be comprehensive educational lessons where kids simply soak in information and then it’s done. Instead parents are prompted at times to share small stories, kids are allowed to voice their concerns, and most importantly, both parent and child a platform and background to revisit the various aspects of this topic as the need arises.

Because not every aspect of this topic can be covered, and Great Conversations knows this, it isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but a solid overview and introduction. August and I may not have learned a bunch of new things, but we now have a common language to use in further discussions.

Maybe the idea of having somebody else talk about puberty is distasteful. That’s fine. If you’re looking for a way to discuss the topic with your child, son or daughter, Great Conversations is there for you. There are two different sessions, one for boys and one for girls, and yes both have some overlapping material.

August and I walked out of both evenings feeling good about the class and there were questions he had I was able to if not answer at least address. And the door is open for more discussions in the future.

Great Conversations holds various 2-night sessions in various locations in the Seattle area. There was even an event as far away as Bend, Oregon recently. If you’re in the Puget Sound area give the page a look.

If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest there might be other organizations holding similar events to discuss puberty with your son or daughter in your municipality. It’s an important talk to have before it hits. Great Conversations helped up get started talking about the subject. While it isn’t a replacement for simple and direct one on one conversation it can be a great way to overcome much of that awkwardness and intimidation.

Great Conversations did not compensate me for this. They didn’t even know I was writing this. I simply firmly believe in it after having experienced it and we will be doing this again with our other kids when they get to be of age.


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Music Monday: 2014 FIFA World Cup – “We Are One”

What is it with FIFA and using Latin American artists for the official song for the World Cup? One would think the official song of the world cup would come from the host country, or at the very least vary in ethnic origin. 3 of the last 5 World Cups have had an official song from a Latin artist.

1998 saw Ricky Martin with “The Cup Of Life” (which I think might be the best World Cup song yet) and 2010 saw “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” by Shakira. In between there were forgettable tunes by Vangelis and some German musician for the 2002 Korea/Japan and 2006 Germany World Cups, respectively. The last time a host country actually contributed the official song was 1994 with Daryl Hall’s “Gloryland” for the 1994 World Cup held here in the United States.

Alright, so this year the official song Claudia Leitte, a Brazillian singer. I will counter, however, that she only gets a verse at the end of the song, Jennifer Lopez gets a verse and Pitbull is the main singer for the whole of the song. Why not have Claudia Leitte be the main singer? It’s her country that’s hosting the World Cup.


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Phamily Foto Phriday 6-6-14

Yes, I’m still behind and I’m going to pack in as much as I can here and try to finally get caught up. I do have to admit this is a better position to be in than having nothing to post.

2014 derby 01First off you may remember a few weeks ago August got first place within his den for the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Here he is about to head out to the District Championships.

He got last place in every heat, but part of that was the way the weights were placed on the bottom of the car and the track is different with a raised runner in the middle rather than the side rails our pack uses. Still he had fun.

Towards the end of May and the beginning of June I was able to accompany kids on field trips. Usually I don’t get to go because they aren’t something I can take Xavier on or the timing doesn’t work out with his preschool pickup. Fortunately with Laura home and able to take care of Xavier that freed me up to go on some field trips. The first one was Déla’s class going to the zoo.

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Another trip was taking August’s grade to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Wow. What a museum. Definitely want to return there with more time.

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I feel sort of bad because each of these event could, and perhaps should have been their own post, but they are sort of reduced to footnotes and belated picture postings. I still have more to post but can’t get everything into one post.




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Music Monday: Fiddler On The Roof

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog at all the last few weeks you would know Fiddler On The Roof has had a major pressence in our lives. First we had the latest addition to our family, Tevye, then a few days later our oldest cat Chava died. A great “Sunrise, Sunset” example.

I grew up with the film having watched it a couple of times as it was broadcast. In the 80s when I purchased a VCR (video cassette recorder for those of you that don’t quite understand analog tehnological acronyms) it was one of the films I had in that format. Later on LaserDisc, it was a cherrished posession as it had much better video and sound quality, plus the added bonus of being in widescreen, so I could see the whole ov the movie for the first time. Eventually I got it on Blu-ray, and I don’t know how many times over the years (decades) I’ve seen Fiddler On The Roof, but suffice to say I like the film.

A while ago, like… I don’t know, 20 years ago or something, I even was able to see a live touring production and really enjoyed it. Particularly the two big dance sequences which are good on film, but really shine on stage (I’m referring to the bar and wedding scenes). Theodore Bikel was in the main role, the man who portrayed Tevye more than any other, though Topol is more recognized because of his appearance in the film.

Because Fiddler On The Roof has been so present in our lives recently we watched the film as a family. I asked the kids what their favorite part of the movie was. Xavier said his was the fiddler walking behind Tevye’s family. He is only 4 and didn’t really understand much of what went on so that’s a very understandable response.

August liked when Mottel and Tzeitel were singing in the woods after getting Tevye’s approval for marriage stating, “it was one of the most peaceful moments in the movie.”

 Laura wouldn’t single out one thing but mentioned how much she liked the wedding, the song “If I Were A Rich Man” (particularly the line “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?”) and also the song “Do You Love Me?”

Déla without hesitation declared “If I Were A Rich Man” her favorite.

Ciárán didn’t have one. His reaction at the end of the movie was pretty understandable. He said “That’s a bummer. I hope the sequel has a happier ending.”

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Phamily Foto Phriday 5-30-14

Still playing “catch-up” with photos. Next week will also be another one of these types of affairs. At least this one includes sharp objects being flung.


Two weekends ago, yes, very shortly after Tevye was born, I took August to Webeloree, an event that is done in conjuction with the Boy Scout Camporee, a weekend campout/competition. for the younger kids it gave them a taste of sleeping outdoors and seeing what some of the Boy Scouts would be doing.

2014 webeloree 01August had been looking forward to going for a long time, and almost by virtue of simply going it cleared away a couple of requirements he needs.

Friday was arrival, setting up of tents, and generally getting set up. Saturday morning we started with breakfast and then the various events and classes kicked in. One of the things that everybody got to do was knife throwing. Here’s August about to launch one of the big blades that you might see at a circus side show at a board with playing cards as targets.

One of the requirements that August needed to get done was to help cook outside for his den. He helped make pita bread pizza. It was a big hit.

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There were team building games, nature walks, plant identification and plenty more.

One highlight was the fire building. not for the playing with fire, but for the fun way thay got to put their fire out.

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Another highlight was being able to look through a telescope at sun spots.

2014 webeloree 06Saturday night was of course the campfire filled with skits and songs. Sunday was breakfast and then we headed out a little earlier than most, but we still had a very full weekend behind us.

August can’t wait to join the Boy Scouts but he has another year of Webelos (Cub Scouts) to go. It’s been a great program for him with plenty of opportunities he wouldn’t have even if I took him camping myself. I’m pretty sure axe throwing isn’t something I would have ever set up for him.


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Goodbye Chava

As we were moving, in the throws of the beginning of our remodel, right after Tevye was born, we had yet another major event happen in our lives. Our old cat Chava was put to sleep.

She came to us a rainy September day in 1997. She was sitting outside our window, meowing, waiting to be let in as if it were her home. We eventually took her in and the veterinarian estimated her age to be about a year old, and possibly having already had a litter of kittens.

We named her Chava after Fiddler On The Roof -the younger daughter who ran off and married the Russian, cast out from her family, ostracised. That is sort of how we imagined this poor cat, in the rain, looking desperately for a home, for somebody to take her back in.

This video is Dela’s 3rd grade “How To” instructional class project.

Over the last several years her health has steadily deteriorated. At various times she would groom one area so much her fur would be gone. Other times she wouldn’t eat. For the last couple of years her kidneys have been failing. It got to the point recently (the last year or so) where she stopped grooming herself altogether and everything she ate would never stay down.

It was a tough decision, and there other factors that I’m not getting into, but it was time to let her go. Chava’s quality of life was so diminished, she was in pain, we were actually surprised she had survived as long as she did.

The vet came to our house on a Friday morning and we talked about her history as he examined her. He was ready to go ahead right away, but we had him come back so the kids could have time to say goodbye to her.

Her passing was peaceful and the kids had a chance to say goodbye. A hole was dug and after school I took August, Déla, Ciárán and Xavier out back to bury Chava. We placed her in the hole, said a few words, and a few tears were shed.

We finished, stood up, and as I began to fill in the hole Ciárán turned to walk away and said “Well, that was gross.”

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