Archive for June, 2008

Battle Ground

This past weekend, I went to the Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering, also known as Battle Ground. I had never been to such a festival before. It was fun. The Foghorn Stringband headlined and played some strong music. On Saturday morning, I attended the fiddle workshop run by Stephen “Sammy” Lind. I even tried a yodeling workshop.

At this festival, however, the best events happen outside the gate. Here and there were some of the best players from around Saint Louis, great downstate Illinois musicians from the the Indian Creek Delta Boys, the Volo Bogtrotters and the Airtight Oldtime Stringband, Indianians including Brad Leftwich and many more. I heard great music just following my ears.

It was not all listening, though. I knew many people via the beloved Folk School, and we played plenty. I also got to meet and play with new folks. I played my fiddle, and I accompanied others with guitar. I got to borrow a mandolin and a banjo and play them, too.

I missed the last festival I wanted to attend. Now I know what these things are. I hope that I can clear out a few more weekends this summer and that this festival is the first among many.

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Michael M. on June 30th 2008 in General, Live, Music

Marred Mars

As the theme of this blog shows, I have a standing interest in astronomy. I am listening to NPR‘s All Thing Considered. Mention of study on Mars newly published in Nature piqued my attention. Then in the coverage, I heard the familiar voice of lead researcher Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna discussing the findings. He graduated from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences here at WashU, and his wife was a graduate school classmate of mine before she transferred to follow her mentor. Jeff is a postdoctoral researcher with Maria Zuber in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Department at MIT. I see that he will join the faculty in the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines.

The issue has several articles dedicated to planetary cataclysms. The study “The Borealis basin and the origin of the martian crustal dichotomy” garnered this preview article along with a News and Views. It is one of three elucidating the mystery of why the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars look so different. It is exciting to see this coverage of the study.

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Michael M. on June 25th 2008 in General

Really Terrible Orchestra

I am a practitioner and exponent of amateurism. Earlier this spring, I found that professional writing about amateurism can be amusing. Alexander McCall Smith contributed this op-ed about the Really Terrible Orchestra to The New York Times. I meant to mention it several months ago. There is even a documentary movie. When I was a teenager, the local arts council sponsored a community concert with a mix of local professional and amateur musicians. I remember it as good fun and good music. After listening to samples on the RTO’s site, I think that “really terrible” is a humorous exaggeration, but not by so much.

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Michael M. on June 25th 2008 in General, Music

The Producers

I saw the Muny production of The Producers last night. I blogged about the Muny several years ago, but I had not been in a long time. I got the original movie several years ago for either Christmas or a birthday. Not too long after, I saw the touring musical at the Fox.

Although I remembered enjoying previous productions, I had forgotten how much fun The Producers is. Except for a few microphone problems, it was excellent. The humor spans all levels. It has raunch. It has physical comedy. It has sight gags. It has wordplay. The delivery of them all was right on.

We shared an outdoor performance with thousands. We lined up outside in the heat to get free seats. After the show, I rode my bike through the cool night air. It had been years, and I have been missing out.


Michael M. on June 22nd 2008 in General, Live, Movies, Music

Country Snoop

I just saw Snoop Dogg‘s “My Medicine” video linked from reddit. It fulfills a wish of mine. He discussed the song when interviewed on favorite Conan. Snoop has deep Mississippi roots. He even performed in a small Mississippi club earlier this year.

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Michael M. on June 22nd 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

Two hit wonder

I am a Suzanne Vega fan, and I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of her concerts. “Luka” was the first song of hers I remember. After the DNA remix of “Tom’s Diner” (video), she mostly faded from my awareness. Then in college, a roommate inherited Solitude Standing. I became a fan again and remained one.

I started tracking the New York Times Measure for Measure blog because she is a contributor. Several famous musicians regularly contribute pieces about their craft. Surviving the Hits takes a look at her two hit songs, especially at “Luka” (video). Her blog post even made it on reddit. She explains how the song evolved in the studio to become the hit it was. The post also mentions previously blogged Lucy Kaplansky. Although I knew that both of them were part of Fast Folk, I had not give the connection much more thought.

Her moderate fame has made for a great situation. Her music is popular enough that many potential fans hear it. She is not so famous, though, that she is inaccessible. Fans can meet her after shows. She occasionally participates in Internet discussions once in a  while.

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Michael M. on June 22nd 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

New fiddle

As blogged moons ago, I sought a new fiddle of my own. I got it while visiting home earlier this month! I posted some low quality cell phone pictures. Eventually, I will post some recordings. I am thankful to Mr. Causey for all the time he put into it, and I am having a great time with it.


Michael M. on June 17th 2008 in General, Music


Beloved Popeyes has Buffalo Nuggets for a limited time only. They approximate the wonderful and greatly missed Cajun Nuggets.

Pappy’s Smokehouse is great. It is the successor to Super Smokers. In fact, owner Mike Emerson came through Super Smokers. Here is an interview with him at Sauce Magazine. My only complaint is the sweet potato fries to the exclusion of regular fries. I do not mind that sweet potato fries are on the menu, but they should not crowd out the real thing.

Wendy’s has opened a few restaurants in the area after the collapse of local franchise several years ago. The spicy chicken sandwich is still good. The variety of Frosty products has increased in the past few years. The old Frosty is still good. Because the closest location is still out in the suburbs, I will not become a regular anytime soon, but I am glad to see the comeback in progress.

Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Get-N-Go does catfish right. I had visited the location near the airport relatively few times when it closed. The replacement that opened out in St. Peters is just too far. The new Get-N-Go is a little too far, but within range for the occasional trip.

Gelato Di Riso is good and close. The location was occupied by Ben and Jerry’s. The neighborhood traded up. With relative newcomers the Cupcakery and Companion Bakery and the established Coffee Cartel, Maryland Plaza is a dessert destination. I still want a diner.

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Michael M. on June 3rd 2008 in General

WashU PhD

Jorge Cham of PhD Comics, a necessary read for graduate students, visited WashU and wrote this comic about it. The bottom strip is definitely about the Sept Lab. The top one is probably about Wooley’s Group, but I am not familiar enough with that department to know. I do not know the nature of his visit, but I am a bit surprised that he did not visit my department.

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Michael M. on June 3rd 2008 in General

So long, Bo

I found on in this story linked on reddit that Bo Diddley has died. Then I found the news on the front page of The New York Times. Bo Diddley and I share a hometown. I has been a while since he came up here. When I was in middle school, he returned for a homecoming concert. I did not get to attend, but he did visit my chorus class. I tried to meet him at the Big Muddy Blues Festival a few years ago. Between songs, he talked about his struggles with diabetes, and the related diseases of stroke and heart failure led to his demise. So long to one of the greats.

Update: The Enterprise-Journal, the hometown newspaper, published this coverage of Diddley’s death.

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Michael M. on June 3rd 2008 in General, Music

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