Monday, November 28, 2005 at 15:38:43 (EST)

You're gonna carry that weight a long time

I'm sure the Pilgrims would have loved this

We survived another Thanksgiving and another long weekend that was downright dormant in my activity level. Hardly any bands were playing and on the night itself it was too cold to venture out to the bars. Not that we needed to, as we were all holed up at Zack & Abby's house for the night. I went off my usual routine and consumed several varieties of alcoholic beverages, ranging from wine to rum. Normally this is anathema to me, as such whimsy often leads to Hangovertown (population: Me). But there was too much stuff to eat and drink not to sample a wide range of goods. I lucked out and was not hungover at all the next day, but the booze did have a mortifying effect on my body which kept me confined to a chair during the Thanksgiving processions.

Abby singlehandedly cooked the whole of the dinner, which probably had something to do with the dazed expression on her face. And get this, she had planned on buying a pre-cooked deep fried turkey from local poultry purveyors Jive Turkey. But due to overspeculation in the turkey market, the shop ran out of said birds (after she'd waited in the freezing morning for hours with many other disgruntled folk), so she had to add cooking a whole turkey into her already long list of menu items. But she pulled it all off, and nobody got hurt (except perhaps for the people at Jive Turkey, who have forever lost a customer it seems). I hear the turkey turned out perfectly, but alas I could not partake since I'm trying to do this vegan thing nowadays. To that end I made a vegan pizza from a recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance, a resident right down the street in Prospect Heights. I modified the recipe a little with added red peppers for color, and the last-minute inclusion of Tofurky kielbasa (it's not bad!). I also made a dessert, a vegan chocolate cake from the venerable Joy of Cooking. That recipe called for cocoa, and as god as my witness I could not find any of it within a mile radius of my house (okay, 2-block radius). Is there a cocoa embargo or something? Anyway I got some baking chocolate and figured out more or less how much to use so it wasn't a total loss. I probably could have thrown in some additional chocolate but the cake was pretty good in any case. Of course, my brand of veganism allows me to eat a bunch of stuff that shouldn't really qualify, but does as long as i can't readily see the prohibited products. This means I ate a bunch of stuffing and pumpkin pie, even though I am vaguely aware they don't count. So sue me.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005 at 13:25:40 (EST)

Family affair
We weren't really clear on what the scene would be like at the Knitting Factory last night, and at first I was a little wary. The crowd that was forming, frankly had a lot of older people, small children, and families, not our usual target demographic. The other band was comprised of teenagers, none older than 17. We had to go on first, which bummed me out until I concluded that perhaps it would be better to get our particular brand of Over-30 Angst-Rock out of the way.

We had a set list that was perhaps a bit too aggressive for the scene. We knew we wouldn't be able to be as loud as we are normally, not to mention the fact there was a grand piano taking of 3/4 of the stage up until a half-hour before our set. This prompted a removal of such Motico classics as "Stop" and "Our Problem is YOU," in favor of the ostensibly less irritable "Buildings" (which is also about twice as long as our normal songs). This all proved to be a good move; and when the crowd actually seemed to take our music in stride. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the performance. We kept our volume in check for the most part and the audience didn't flee the room. And Trazy got up and did a cover song finale with us, Lyn Collins' "Think (About It)," the song from whence Rob Base got that sample for his "It Takes Two" song (which I'm pretty sure everybody in the world has heard at least several times by now). This was a good move, not just because we pulled the song off pretty well, but also because folks love cover songs, even if they're not too familiar with what's being covered. So we survived the evening and it wasn't a total disaster; some of the high school kids even asked us when we were playing next. Maybe we should do more all-ages events.



My new cheap guitar

Last night was also the first time in about 12 years that I played a set without my trusty '77 Les Paul, or my Stewart-Macdonald Telecaster copy. I recently purchased a bargain-basement Epiphone SG Special for even less than I paid for my very first guitar, a paisley-covered Tele copy by Cort Guitars (it was so cheap it even said "Electric Guitar" on the headstock in case you forgot). It doesn't have the solid feel of the Les Paul, but this SG is lighter and doesn't have the feedback problems of my other axe. The other day my old pal Rich came over to try out some replacement pickups for the SG (the stock pups are a little to muddy for me). We tried a couple of his pickups and they were an improvement, but then I remembered my old roommate had left behind an old Stratocaster, which contained some version of a Hot Rails pickup, a humbucker that fits into a single-coil slot. I remember not liking it when I played it before, but we dropped the Hot Rail into the SG and it made all the difference in the world. I know guitarists tend to confuse more than illuminate when they speak about such things, but I must say this alternate pickup gives the guitar more good overdrive distortion while preserving a sonic clarity that actually refines each note individually without too much break-up but lots of crazy harmonic action in the high-mid range. In short, it kicks butt. I'm probably gonna swap the pickups out in my Les Paul next to see what will happen then. Unfortunately I've exhausted my supply of guitar parts found in the basement, so i guess I'll have to buy some.

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Monday, November 21, 2005 at 14:48:43 (EST)

Up jumped the devil
Even more sporadic than posts to this web site are public appearances of my band. But that will change tomorrow night, as Motico performs at the Knitting Factory Tap Room. Sadly, I doubt many of you will make it to this event. Not because you don't love my band, and think we're the Most Amazing Thing Ever. But because the ticket price is $20. Yes, it's an absolutely ridiculous cover price, and only the very wealthy among you should pay it. It is, however, a benefit show for the Children's Epilepsy Program at Beth Israel Hospital, which tugs upon the heartstrings and makes one think twice about the metaphorical value of money vis à vis the larger make-the-world-a-better-place ethos implied from such events as benefit shows (to which Motico is no stranger). Does that make you A) More likely to come, B) Less likely to come, C) The same? While I certainly can't insist on anyone's presence tomorrow night at around 8PM, I can't in good conscience tell you not to come, either, both because it's a "good cause" and, after all, it's "my band" that's playing. Of course I hope the benefit itself does well, but I will be very interested to see who the paying customers are. It should also be mentioned that at this performance we will be performing a Very Special Cover Song with a talented guest singer that in the opinion of many will more than make up for the cost of the show.

Motico will be back again, exactly one month later, to play the miniscule 169 Bar in Chinatown on December 22. Sadly, many of you will have already fled the Big City, to return to your housing developments and corn silos in the Heart Land, where you will enact the age-old rituals of Playing Nice with the Relatives until you can get back here in time for New Year's Eve, wherein your revelry will be not so much for the supposed glee of entering upon another year so much as congratulating yourself for not still living in that podunk town. But if for some reason your plans differ from this track, head over to Chinatown on that Thursday night and pay what I assume will be a nominal cover fee to see my band and some other bands, which have yet to be decided.

Further to that end, almost exactly a year ago, some guy came up to Zack after a Motico performance specifically to chastise our band. He said our music had no 'soul,' that we were merely going through the well-traveled indie rock motions. He then segued bizarrely into a laudatory declaration of Kenny G's breath control and his record-breaking holding of a single note on the soprano sax. Due to this coda, I always assumed the guy was joking, but fate, it seems, is also not without a sense of humor. The Kenny G-Lover turned out to be a guy who lives in the neighborhood, and true to his promises since the incident, Zack confronted the guy at the park over the summer. They guy went for the usual explanations: he was drunk, he's known to shoot his mouth off when he's loaded, he never expected to run into Zack or our band again ... But as most of us know, this is in many ways a small town (though perhaps not small like the Denny's-infested strip-mall hellhole wherein many of us will spend the upcoming holidays), and we all must expect that sooner or later we'll run into people we'd least like to see. I dunno, maybe the guy is new to town, but he did not realize this. Now we see the guy with some frequency, which seem to unnerve him (or maybe he's just always like that).

Now, my question is: Would it be the epitome of bad taste to ask this guy's jazz band to play a show with Motico? We need additional bands for this gig, and few will be available due to the date. Would that make you A) More likely to come, B) Less likely to come, C) The same?

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005 at 12:49:54 (EST)

Everything you wanted and more

I waited around politely for months, hoping somebody on Flickr would offer me a Pro account upgrade. But alas, no one offered. I was under the impression that Flickr occasionally gave existing Pro users the ability to bestow Pro accounts on other nonPro users. Alas, I was never so blessed, so I just went ahead and paid for a Pro account. This means some of my older photos that were locked due to a 200 photo limit are now available to all. Thus we can enjoy such memories as:

JoshB's private moment during Jose's bachelor party trip

Sweaty Japanther shows I attend with children half my age

And of course, new memories, such as Mr Bones new hobby:

Mr Bones crushes the life out of his prey before consuming it

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