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August 2006
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October 2006

Hey kids, check out the latest Frankenpony release, Hideous Creatures, which by the way is album NUMBER FOUR for the boys. 

That's a lot of punky power pop songs crammed into a few years.  Not too shabby for regular guys with day jobs and mortgages, not to mention a 130 mile commute to Chicago for one of the band members, Mr. Rick Bennett, who lives right here in Bloomington, Illinois.  (Yes, I'm talking about THE Rick Bennett from Electric Tuba fame...)

Besides being packed with 16 catchy tunes, Hideous Creatures happens to feature a couple of my now all-time favorite Frankenpony tunes: one called Come Down and another called Immersing

Come Down somehow gets away with being both deadly serious and seriously deadpan at the same time.  It's "come down from your ledge" followed by "think of all the things you'd leave cookies and pizza..."  Oh yeah, and the stinger: "just one more thing, at the top of the list, you just think of us, cause we would miss you."  So take heed from a rock and roll parent, and come on down.

Anyway, this is a fun yet sincere track with the best chorus hook of the record, a groovy laid-back reggae feel, excellent orchestration, and a perfectly tasty guitar solo played by John Griffin. 

The song Immersing is a classic Frankenpony brew of garage rock meets prog rock meets 80s pop song.  It's a fun, energetic arrangement with catchy hooks all over the place.  Fun bass lines and tasty drums, and again a wicked guitar solo.  At the moment, you can sample and download this awesome track out on the band's myspace page

Other standout tracks for me include Rotting, Hood, Looking, and Trash.  Overall, the record proves to be an adventurous modern take on underground 80s pop. With reference points from 80s era XTC to The Tubes to Joe Jackson to The Producers, it's definitely reminiscent of some of those sounds, but heavier and quirkier. 

Lyrically, this is probably the zaniest and silliest of Frankenpony records (with songs like Ketchup Vs. Catsup and The Importance Of Eating Breakfast).  Musically, it's the band's tightest with excellent vocals throughout, and arguably Johnny Flamini's best drumming.  Hideous Creatures is yet another milestone for the band, adding to an already prolific body of work. 

If you are in Chicagoland, you get to see the boys in person at 9:00 P.M. at Gunther Murphy's on November 3, 2006.  The rest of the world can sample tracks on cdbaby or itunes.  If you like, buy your favorite tracks and help Rick pay for his gas to Chicago rehearsals...

I don't normally use the music site for online ranting.  Guess what?  I'm going off-topic today. 

First off, we are trying to reduce our monthly household expenses through budgeting and better cash flow management.  So it's a no-brainer to look at the bills that we have to pay every month and try to figure out where to cut.  Well we are paying almost 50 bucks a month for our Verizon phone land line, with very few bells and whistles, like no caller ID, no long distance calls, and stuff like that.

So I call the company to find out if there is anything they can do to help us reduce our bill, otherwise we are considering switching to voice over IP.  It sounds like a VOIP service like vonage should give us a bunch of features for about half the price.  Long story short, Verizon can't come close.  And I find that we've been for months, I suppose for years, paying $4 a month for "in-home wire maintenance."  Ouch.  This is considered a "feature" of our land line service.  I see.  Well, I guess we don't need that anymore. 

Oh, and everytime we *69 (at least someone at Verizon has a sense of humor), it costs us 75 cents. Of course, we use *69 to find out who is calling us, because we don't have caller ID...  And I should read the bill a little closer, I know this.

Overall, there are a few things we have to check out before we switch to VOIP, but this definitely lays some groundwork for that. 

Now onto the cable company.  Ours is Insight.  For a short period of time this summer, for fun, we tried extra cable channels, plus a digital box because it's only $12 a month blah blah blah.  Well the box is $5 plus the channels.  Yes, we loved the upgrade from our most basic of cable to get a ridiculous number of channels even though we just wanted a couple like Bravo, CNN, and for the kids Disney, Nick, all that. 

After a little research and a quick family discussion, we decide for just a few extra bucks a month, we can upgrade our Netflix and the kids can get their TV shows on DVD and go back to basics with cable.  Hello.  I LOVE Netflix.  Now THAT is a company that is making ALL the right moves, at least as far as I can see. 

So we call up Insight to go back to basic cable.  Well, there is going to be a charge of $8.95 for them to come out and switch our cable service.  And then we need to drop off the cable box.  So I finally get around to returning the cable box, and I find out that all this time since we had called to cancel the box, they've been charging us for the service.  LAME.  I ask the receptionist why the cable guy didn't pick up the cable box when he came out to change our service.  "Oh, they don't do that."  I see.  You are charging me for them to come out, but they can't knock on our door to take the box back.  They did put the box IN there, by the way.  And I really wanted to hand them a bill for $8.95 for driving all the way across town, just like they did to us.

I guess, we are just expected to eat it because they are the cable company and they can do just about whatever they want.  Yes we have a few other choices now.  But, in the not so distant future, there will be many more choices. Do they not know that we are all cataloging, deep into our memories, all of these unpleasantries and telling all of our friends how lame this and that is.  And some of us are switching services. 

Now onto cell phones.  How many times have you discovered--and only because you asked the RIGHT QUESTION--that your cell phone company NOW has a new discount program that gets you more minutes for 1/3 of the price you are paying now?  Why do they not tell us these things that they know?  They are doing all sorts of other market analysis and customer metrics, but they can't do some for us, that might be in OUR best interest?  Of course not.  It would mean less money for them.  Maybe they know they need to gobble up as much as they can, while they can. 

Shouldn't we just switch?  We were just reminded that we are stuck in contract with our cell provider until January 2008.  Shame on us.  And guess who we have?  Verizon Wireless.  True, we don't learn.  Is there a better one out there?  I'm guessing they are all a little on the lame side.  I know about half of my calls are dropped right in my own house.  Can you hear me now? 

So, yes, I could switch our Verizon land line to get my phone through the internet.  And guess how we get our internet?  INSIGHT.  And, I suppose we could switch off Insight to DSL, but that is through VERIZON WIRELESS. 

I know it's a privilege to be able to have these sorts of complaints.  I'm not complaining about THAT, but I definitely feel better about THIS.