Embracing Mother Nature with Bonus Mulch Ado About Nothing Cartoon

I dirtied my hands this past weekend, and it felt good. Saturday and Sunday were spent digging in the yard, cutting back dead branches from trees & shrubs, and generally wasting time in an effort to avoid any indoor projects that may require actual skill or thought.

Saturday started off great as I headed out with my radio. I had to turn on the switch for outside power to my pond to listen to my radio, so I got the sounds of running water along with my music, as if I were listening to a concert alongside a babbling brook. I know that my pond doesn’t sound very natural if I have to turn on the power for it. But what if I told you that my pond’s pump is powered by a small wind turbine and solar panel? Pretty cool, right? Well, it’s not. The pump just plugs into a power outlet outside. But the end result still was the sound of running water and some good music, until this happened …

No, my neighbor didn’t propel himself around the neighborhood with his leaf blower. That only happens in Florida, because, well, Floridians. But he did don his jetpack and blow every speck of debris off his lawn while drowning out my music and water sounds.

Fortunately, that didn’t last too long as I puttered and pondered the nature of our very existence.

EDITOR’S WARNING: This idiot is about to wax philosophical. The last Mite Be Funny cartoon was about René Descartes, Cartesian dualism, and of course, dead skin flakes. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Stop reading now. Or, click on through to continue reading at your own risk.

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New Music For Old Rockers – Channelling Steely Dan

Walter Becker of Steely Dan passed away a while back, but take a listen to this new song by the band PREP released in the US in late January and see if you hear Steely Dan in this song …

I know you are asking, “Why would Jim post a YouTube video where nothing visually happens?” Ah, but there are subtle movements in the video that complement the music.

I definitely hear Steely Dan in this song by PREP, and I think this song would fit nicely on the Aja album. The vocals in the high register remind me of Donald Fagen but in the lower register sound more like Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. And you can’t tell me the chord progression at the 3:44 mark isn’t pure Steely Dan.

Now, if you like this song, I have a special treat for you …

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The Return of Me & Live Music to Chicago or How I Almost Made a Huge Mistake

On Good Friday last week, we took a drive to meet our oldest daughter on Montrose Beach in Chicago on Lake Michigan. It really is a beautiful beach. How can a beach in a city of millions of people be beautiful? I dunno, but take a look for yourself.

On our way there, we passed an interesting and familiar sight. I swore I had seen something similar to this on Twitter …

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New Music For Old Rockers – Fab Four Edition

I actually got to see some live music over the weekend which I will tell you about in an upcoming post. But for now, here’s a quad pack of new music for you. You may have heard these already, but maybe one or two will be new for you.

How about some new music FROM an old rocker, specifically an old Beatle? Ringo Starr is 80 and still cranking out new music. He’s dedicated his last couple decades to spreading his message of peace and love, and this song is all about that.

Okay, so there’s no music video and the song is nothing special. But it sounds so comfortably Ringo with Beatlesque overtones, and the dude is 80! Let’s see you spread such an important message about peace and love in such a listenable way at 80. Rock on, Ringo.

Now, how about another new track from a former Beatle that sounds nothing like the Beatles?

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Hit Me with Your Best Shot!

Today’s blog title is a fun song along with my theme song from yesterday. I definitely got my best shot in a long time. I got my Fauci ouchie, Trump tonic, Biden booster, or whatever you want to call it based on your political leanings. I got the COVID vaccine, or at least shot #1 of 2. They gave me the brand that begins with a P. Now, what was that name again? Something like Placebo, I think. That’s why I’m smiling so much in this pic …

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are my top 5 favorite songs with the word “green” in the title. No hyphenated green words in titles like “Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf allowed. No words with green as a part of them like “Greensleeves.” Just green. That’s it.

Song #5

I’m choosing the Lemon Pipers singing “Green Tambourine” at #5. It’s fun, poppy psychedelia. Watch the very cool old video.

Number 4 is dripping with soul.

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I, Audio Dinosaur

I am an unapologetic audio dinosaur. I know my kids like to listen to what they want, when they want. Not me. Radio still tickles and tantalizes my audio antennae. It helps that I can easily listen to Chicago’s WXRT at 93.1FM, one of the great radio stations in the USA. Before you tune me out since you don’t live in Chicago, you can also listen to WXRT using the radio.com app on your PC, tablet, or phone. We can listen together!

Why do I prefer a live radio broadcast rather than using Spotify or another streaming app that allows me to listen to exactly what I want? I like to be surprised, and WXRT still surprises me. When I first started listening in the mid-70s, WXRT was an evening-only music station. During the daylight hours, the 93.1FM station featured Spanish language programming. But when darkness fell, the language changed to English with understated FM deejays spinning music on vinyl. And what music! They played progressive rock, jazz, blues, folk, and even classical.

Times have changed, and WXRT is now a slicker, corporately-owned music giant. Sure, they play some newer songs sometimes too much. But they play plenty of new music heard nowhere else and lots of old music, with always a surprise to lift my spirits. It may be rarities like The Polecats singing “Make a Circuit With Me” or “Belly of the Whale” by Burning Sensation. And I can’t help but smile if I happen to catch Perry Farrell’s dog kick off “Been Caught Stealing” by Jane’s Addiction on the radio when I’m in the car with the windows open on a warm, sunny day. I know I can play those songs anytime I want, but it always is a nice surprise and thoroughly gratifying when someone else who also appreciates those songs plays them for me. There’s a 3 or 4 minute bond that forms, as fleeting as it may be.

And then there are the WXRT special features like Sunday morning’s Breakfast with the Beatles, Saturday Morning Flashback, or new music on The Big Beat. I was moved to write this today as I listened to all-vinyl Friday. Vinyl album sides are being played in their entirety, taking me back in time to listen to some timeless music. I’ve already heard album sides from Bonnie Raitt, The Cars, CS&N, Billy Joel, Supertramp, and the Rolling Stones. I’m looking forward to hearing an upcoming album side from Chicago’s own John Prine who succumbed to Covid in 2020. To me, this is radio at its best, harkening back to the halcyon days of progressive rock radio when many a deejay may have put on a 20 minute long song by Yes so he or she could step outside for a couple smokes/tokes. And the hiss and pop from the vinyl is just so viscerally stimulating and satisfying for me to hear. I guess that not only makes me an audio dinosaur, but an analog audio dinosaur. I will gladly wear that title. Try and take that title from me at your own risk. I may hiss or pop at you.

Jim’s Poetry Corner for a Circular Room

It’s oppressively cold here for the next week or so. What genius decided that this planet was habitable? Anyway, here’s a bit of poetry for the bitter cold. Feel free to add your own lines to create an even longer and more painful poem to read.

Winter’s grip of ice and cold is more than I can bear

As I rend my clothes in deep despair.

Now I sit shivering in my underwear,

Glad to not be completely bare,

And wishing I had even more body hair.

So I sally forth completely aware

That frostbite may require medical care.

But fear not for my general welfare,

For I awake and find it was just a nightmare.

Wait, no it’s not. It’s the freakin’ Arctic out there.

Bonus Content Alert

If you’re feeling lucky and want to risk extending this post beyond the poem and delve into the depths of Omaha, Nebraska winter weather and one-hit music wonders, then click to read more …

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BEYOND: Tales of the Afterlife – A Look Inside Tale #2

The year is 1968. The hot rock & roll bands are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Monkees, although I distinctly recall girls in my grade school class talking about how much they loved the Turtles. Why can I remember that bit of minutiae and not that garbage day is Tueday?

Anyway, I go back and forth. The Beatles are the greatest rock and roll band ever, right? Sure, we all have our favorite other non-Beatle bands. Mine include XTC, Squeeze, Cage the Elephant, Springsteen & the E Street Band, Wilco, Tame Impala, The Clash, Crowded House, and many others. And I’ll choose to listen to those bands over the Beatles more times than not. But still, the Beatles are tops, right? Right? Well, maybe not.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the Rolling Stones recently. They released this song earlier in 2020 around the start of the COVID quarantine.

It’s not a great song, but it’s certainly a good tune that sounds exactly like a Rolling Stones song should sound. They are still producing good new music after more than 50 years! And they’re not half dead like the Beatles. Sure, the Stones lost Brian Jones early on, and Bill Wyman has retired, but Mick & Keith are still going strong with Charlie Watts on drums and Ron Wood on guitar. I’m starting to give the nod to the Stones over the Beatles simply due to longevity.

So, what does this have to do with my book of short stories titled BEYOND: Tales of the Afterlife, available on Amazon? Well, Tale #2 is titled “A Monkee to Die For,” and revolves around a Davy Jones promotional visit to a California record store. In the story, not only is Jones featured in an indirect way, but the Rolling Stones and Beatles also get mentions. My video excerpt in this post from Tale #2 involves a demonic being explaining to a 12 year old girl smitten by Davy Jones that the Rolling Stones may not be as icky as she thinks. Take a look and listen.

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Greek Geek Gawk

I am sad to say that one of my self-acclaimed and sometimes mildly amusing Mite Be Funny cartoons is NOT the all-time most-viewed post on this blog. It is this monstrosity …

It registers well over 3000 views, and that number continues to grow daily. If you search on Google for “maga hat mark of the best,” my post is at the top of page 2. I hesitate to post a link, but if someone is really interested in the original satirical post on Biblical/political (Biblitical?) numerology, click HERE.

In July, I added this post to disavow the original post as UTTER NONSENSE. It didn’t work. I could just kill the original post, but the views alternately entertain and terrify me. And then this comment from a reader arrived …

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Suspicions of Sedition

I’m not a huge Elvis Presley fan, but I like the song he recorded titled “Suspicious Minds.” Here’s a live video version with studio-recorded audio that I kind of like because of the Spanish subtitles and the construction site clips interspersed with the concert footage.

Now imagine that instead of singing about suspicious minds, he was singing about Trump’s seditious lies. I think it would go something like this …

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He Could Have Used One

Gerry Marsdsen, front man and singer-songwriter for Gerry and the Pacemakers, passed away at age 78 from … heart problems. Is it just me, or does that seem to be super-ironic? It turns out he actually did have a pacemaker, but it was a heart infection that did him in.

At one point, Gerry and the Pacemakers rivaled the Beatles for popularity. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you after all the nonsense I’ve delivered through this blog. But maybe you’ll believe a freakin’ knight. Take a look at what Sir Paul tweeted along with a great pic from the rock & roll history archives …

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A Holiday Gift from Me to You

On the tenth day of my Twelve Days of Blogging, I finally come through with a gift. About time. Sit back, read on, and I’ll unwrap it for you. The gift, I mean.

A wonderful annual holiday tradition in Chicago is the Goodman Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Please note the fancy spelling of theater. It must be classy if they spell theater as theatre! And it is. The Goodman is a beautiful theatre/theater with tremendous sight lines and sound. The production quality is extraordinary. Performance details change somewhat from year to year, so we have friends who make seeing it a beloved annual holiday tradition.

And then, there are those like us Flanigans.

We make the Goodman’s production every few years and enjoy it as much as alcohol and prescription painkillers permit us to. However, we also enjoy experiencing other versions of A Christmas Carol that are performed throughout the greater Chicagoland area. We have seen probably close to a dozen different versions. My favorite version of all took place in a crappy little playhouse featuring folding chair seating and no heat for that evening’s performance. But it was great fun, featured hilarious songs, and was somewhat audience participatory.

But enough about what I’ve enjoyed and you have not. Where’s your damn gift, right?

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Take a Walk

It was an odd Thanksgiving Day yesterday with 3 of our 5 kids staying remote due to COVID concerns. We did a Zoom meeting with the remote kids, which seemed more normal than I expected. But before that, I took a walk with Lola the dog to the neighborhood creek.

She loved it. I liked it. I would have loved it had she not pooped 3 times on the walk. How is that even possible? It’s not like she was eating along the way. Well, we had a mostly enjoyable walk, minus the ubiquitous pooping, and I was bemused seeing these trees along the way to the creek …

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New Music For Old Rockers – RIP Edition, Part 2

My recent NMFOR was also an RIP Edition. What’s up with these deceased musicians still releasing great music? This time it is Tom Petty. I’ve never been a huge Petty fan, but I always appreciated the high quality of his music and have some personal favorites like Wildflowers and I Won’t Back Down.

When I first heard this Petty song recently, I knew I had heard it before. I figured it was a more obscure deep Petty track. Radio station 93.1 WXRT in Chicago does play deep tracks daily. But then I heard it again … and again … and again. That is too frequent for an obscure deep track, and Petty is still dead. So here it is, a song Petty wrote and recorded in 1995, but decided against releasing since he thought it sounded too much like some of his other songs. Instead, he gave the song to Rod Stewart to release, which is where I heard it before. Now here is the Petty version in a posthumous release, and it’s a gem.

Yes, it sounds like some other Petty songs. I don’t consider that a bad thing. Listening to it feels like slipping into a comfortable robe and slippers on a cold winter’s morn. It’s classic Petty, and I ache for more.

Songs for a Day of Counting Votes

As the election vote-counting drags on, I think we all would benefit from some relevant music to get through today. I know I need some. I still find myself openly weeping at times during the day, but as news for Biden has improved, I have made some progress. I no longer cry blood.

So, here are some songs that you may like. Let’s start off with a rollicking good tune about vote-counting in the Southeast. What city can help Biden pull off a surprise state flip? This one …

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New Music for Old Rockers – RIP Edition

I haven’t done a NMFOR post in almost 4 months. Without live music, it sometimes seems to me that new music doesn’t exist. But it does! There’s some excellent new music being released. Here are some links to new music by Tame Imapala, My Morning Jacket, Bruce Springsteen, and Dayglow. Now the last song isn’t new. It was released over 2 years ago by a high school kid with a green screen, some musical talent, and the ability to write an easy, listenable song. Over 42 million YouTube views later and it finally is getting some radio airplay.

I want to make it clear – none of these artists have died. They are just examples of new music being made despite the Age of COVID.

That brings me to this new release of an old song written by someone taken from us by COVID – John Prine. Kurt Vile teamed with John Prine to record Prine’s “How Lucky.” I like the contrast between Vile’s clean vocals and Prine’s rough, cancer-scarred vocals that somehow still sound great. And together at the end of the song, their voices blend together magically.

It got me thinking about all the musicians we lost in 2020. I put together this supergroup …

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A New Cartoon? (God help us all)

That’s right, from the same mentally unstable creative team that gave you award-losing cartoons such as Mulch Ado About Nothing, Mite Be Funny, and the Pulitzer Prize-ignored Flies On Washington Walls comes a new cartoon called …

Flies On Mike Pence’s Head

Well, that didn’t go as planned. Maybe we’ll give the creative team their meds and rethink this while you enjoy a song.