That’s how I (sushi) roll

Wow, free sushi! At a downtown magazine box, no less!

What will they think of next? A pizza ATM? Whoops, that already exists (at my alma mater, no less).

Visitors stand beside a Pizza ATM machine at Xavier University, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati. The university partnered with French company Paline to install the first Pizza ATM in North America. The machine holds 70 pizzas at once as customers will be able to use a touch screen to pick one of the $10 pizzas, which will be heated for several minutes, placed in a cardboard box and ejected through a slot. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


How about a vending machine that dispenses fishing bait? Wait, that exists too.

Guess the only thing left to invent is a soft-serve machine that dispenses Cheez-Whiz instead of ice cream.


My patent is already pending.



Music notes in the key of D(ubbatrubba)

A few concert-going odds and ends from the past couple of weeks:

I saw Joan Shelley open up for Richard Thompson two Fridays ago.

Hearing her voice in that setting, it’s easy to make comparisons to the late great Sandy Denny, with whom Richard played eons ago in Fairport Convention.

I know that’s high praise for folkies, but Joan deserves it. NPR is streaming her new album (produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco) – spend some time with it.

This past Saturday I saw Cincinnati’s own Wussy at the Woodward Theater. They were a bit rusty (they’re taking a break from touring to record), but amazing as always. The sandpaper & silk combination of Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker on vocals is, in a word, beautiful.

Wussy had two local bands opening up. Note to all local bands: if you’d like to attract more fans, maybe try a volume other than “eardrum-piercing.” Seriously, my friend Dave and I could only last 30 seconds with the first band before we retreated outside. You win the volume contest, local band… but ironically you lose a chance to be heard by more people. Wouldn’t you rather have folks up by the stage rather than rushing for the exits or cowering in a corner? TURN IT DOWN! WAY DOWN! (See, you don’t like it when I turn up the volume either, do you? Now you know how the audience feels.)

Thank goodness I had my Earpeace earplugs. If you go to concerts, do your ears a favor and get a pair. A mere $20 will get you the HD version, and they come with their own handy carrying case.

I spent years using those disposable foam factory/construction site earplugs, which muffle all sounds. Earpeace plugs actually filter the sound, so you can enjoy the bands without killing your hearing.

On Monday I saw a great double bill, again at the Woodward. Ron Gallo opened up for Hurray for the Riff Raff. Both were fantastic. Ron’s songwriting and guitar skills are as impressive as his hairdo, and that’s saying something:


Hurray for the Riff Raff is fronted by Alynda Lee Segarra, a self-proclaimed “New Yorican” (i.e. New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent) and pint-sized dynamo. Her new album is The Navigator, and it’s great. The band sounds fantastic in concert too, and Alynda isn’t afraid to speak her mind about all sorts of socio-political topics. She introduce a couple of tunes by saying “this is an immigrant song.” Here’s their performance at SXSW last month.

Ron Gallo and his two other band members even joined Hurray for the Riff Raff on stage for a couple of songs, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “Living in the City” (here’s a brief clip)…

…and a raucous encore version of a John Lennon tune, “Bring on the Lucie (Freeda People)” (another snippet):



Aaaaand finally (I know, tl:dr)….

NPR is also streaming an album where artists from Dolly Parton to Pearl Jam cover Brandi Carlile’s The Story. It’s called “Cover Stories” and it’s for a good cause:

The musicians on Cover Stories joined the project, in part, because they believe in the cause Cover Stories benefits – all proceeds go to War Child UK, a non-governmental organization supporting children affected by conflict

Peace out.

Happy Earth Day to You

Hey, it’s Earth Day, the one day out of 365 (or 366) that we actually give a damn about the planet we all share. Each year is the hottest on record. Smog is getting smoggier. Rains are turning to floods. Earthquakes are a fracking nightmare. A 94-year-old engineer may be our last hope.

OK, maybe I’m being overly dramatic. But I’m also being overly Dramarama…

What Are We Gonna Do? – Dramarama from Damian John Spooner – Upton on Vimeo.

What are we gonna do? Here are some ideas.

Happy Birthday, Planet Earth!

Dog days

You know that:

A. You’re of a certain age AND

B. you watched too much Saturday morning TV

If every time you see a German Shepherd dog, you think of Run, Joe, Run.

RJR (as we true fans call it), was a live-action Saturday morning show that ran from ’74 until ’76. The premise was… interesting…

[opening narration] WANTED: Male German Shepherd, Black And Tan. Answers to the name of Joe. Accused of attacking his trainer, Sgt. Will Corey. A crime he did not commit. Only Corey can prove him innocent, but he must find Joe before his pursuers track him down.

So basically the show was The Fugitive as played by a dog. (Fun fact: the narrator was Paul Frees, a voice actor who also played Boris Badenov, Burgermeister Meisterburger and The Pillsbury Doughboy.)

Thank goodness the description told us the German Shepherd’s colors, “black and tan” or else we would’ve wasted a lot of time tracking down all those purple German Shepherds.

Poor Joe was misunderstood, and always got in trouble when he was just trying to help. Like in this episode with Kristy McNichol. He gives a toddler  her milk bottle and chases a fox out of the chicken cage, and gets nothing but grief for it. (Also worth noting that Sgt. Will Corey had a car phone waaay before anyone else did.)

You’d think a single dog was OJ Simpson in a White Bronco the way he was chased by so many authorities. Guess that $200 bounty went a lot further in the 70s.

Read more about RJR here.


Where’s the funny?

I recently watched the new Amy Schumer stand-up comedy special on Netflix.

I was completely underwhelmed. A lot of empty calories, and very few laughs, or even giggles or smiles. Netflix really should change the summary to “Amy Schumer riffs on sex and bodily functions” because that was 99% of her routine. I’m sure some folks will find that amusing, but it certainly isn’t very creative.

I loved Richard Pryor, and he could be filthy, but a lot of his bits were both profane AND profound. Listen to this less-than-two-minute clip of Pryor’s bit on black males and cops… it’s from 1974 but it could have been written yesterday (sadly). There are more laughs in that bit than in the entire hour-long Schumer special.

Guess I should’ve watched the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot instead. Or perhaps not.

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