Sunday, May 14, 2006


Thank you, Toronto, for making our first-ever Mamapalooza a runaway success! Watch for pictures and recap in days to come.

After we finish exhaling, we will turn the page and start planning Mamapalooza 2007.


Saturday, May 13, 2006


She rocks, she rolls, she's, uh, your mom?

With titles like 'I Hate My (expletive) Family,' Mom rock gets some credibility

Special to The Globe and Mail

MAY 13, 2006 -- Rock music has been about many things. Sex, politics, more beer. But "self empowerment"? Never. Until that is, the birth of "mom rock." As a genre, mom rock is very much about such things: empowerment, self- expression, creative voices of mothers. Still, it's a remarkably earnest-free zone. Its bands have names like HRT, Housewives on Prozac, the Mydols and Placenta, and their song titles run to the wackily domestic -- Eat Your Damn Spaghetti, Born to Iron or Pick Up Your Socks.

Although hounding kids to clean up and eat their meals when served is a preoccupation of parents everywhere, the majority of mom rockers hail from the suburbs. Some even embrace the image. Take for example the Mydols, whose slogan is "rockin' soccer moms." Others send it up -- mom-rocker Lynda Kraar does a countrified number called Suburban White in a White Suburban, satirizing the clich├ęs of privileged suburban motherhood. And like all bands recently hatched in garages and family rooms, mom-rockers tend to the jam-band sound of the freshly initiated, whether they're punky, pop or hard rockin.' The music is usually wildly enthusiastic, often giddily amateurish, and occasionally quite good.

Mom rock became a bona fide movement courtesy of Mamapalooza, an event first held in New York in 2002, a gathering of musicians, comedians, and spoken-word artists -- all of whom were mothers. Today, Family Circle magazine sponsors Mamapalooza, which takes place in 30 locales. Its inaugural Canadian incarnation on Sunday -- Mother's Day -- will be held at Toronto's Lula Lounge. Joy Rose, Mamapalooza's founder and lead singer of Housewives on Prozac, says Mamapalooza strives to create "a safe, generous experience where artists of all backgrounds can freely express themselves and feel supported."

Of course, pre-Mamapalooza there already were rockers who happened to be moms, without the benefits of organized support. It's difficult to imagine, say, Chrissie Hynde (front woman of the Pretenders, now into her 50s and the mother of two daughters) fretting about whether she was having a safe experience when she'd rip into Bad Boys Get Spanked. Hynde, and the pitifully few like her, have never been part of any movement, unless you count their automatic status as a visible minority.

For mom rock to matter, musically, it would have to create more Chrissie Hyndes, more Bonnie Raitts and Annie Lennoxes -- something that hasn't happened to date. Instead, it's possible to view mom rock as potentially undermining the legacy of women who actually made it in the boys 'n' guitars world on their musical strengths. The sassy jokiness that is one of the charms of mom rock bands is also what makes it all too easy to dismiss the music they make. That's a reality that some mom rockers, such as HRT, (who count AC/DC and the Rolling Stones as primary influences), admit is worrisome. HRT guitarist Marlane Pinkowitz says the "gimmick angle" is a double-edged sword.

"In one way, mom rock does represent what we are about," she says, "because we are moms who rock. We certainly started out that way. But as we grow musically we are playing less on the fact that we are moms who rock and more on being women -- and a band -- that rocks hard and rocks good."

HRT, who wisecrack that as they get older their acronym can double for hip-replacement therapy, don't consider their music a hobby, and steer away from cutesy song titles, writing numbers like I Hate My Fucking Family instead. But musically speaking they're newbies -- only one of the group's members had played before the mom-rock movement inspired them to form a band.

This isn't the case with all mom rockers though. Kraar, one of the organizers of the Canadian incarnation of Mamapalooza, and author of the blog, Guitargirls Digital Diary, had a band in Toronto in the 1980s called Lynda Marks and the Marksmen, who performed gigs at such venerable establishments as Grossmans and the Isabella. For her, taking up music again in her forties, as a mother of two, is a return to one of her passions.

"A lot of people give it up and stop and never revisit it again, and say, yeah, well mummy had a rock band when she was much younger, but not since you guys were here, because you're more important," Kraar says. "Playing rock now is a way of saying, you know what? Mommy's still a rock 'n' roll babe."

Mommy may be a rock 'n' roll babe, but beneath the black velvet jacket is also usually a woman who's making a statement about the status quo views of motherhood. Or, as Kraar puts it, "The minute you take on the decision to drive car pool, you lose your status in the outside world."

For these women, mom rock is partly a way of reclaiming status -- on new terms. But societal perceptions of the role of motherhood (particularly the suburban, "stay-at-home" ilk) aside, the question remains: What kind of status does mom rock give women in the rest of the musical world? So far, not much. There are exceptions, of course, for example the Mydols, whose recording Born to Iron is nominated in the Detroit music awards.

But perhaps for bands who choose to identify themselves as mom rock bands, it ultimately won't matter -- not if as a genre it continues as one-part music, one-part empowerment, two-parts a rockin' good time -- a successful recipe, as long as there are mothers who want to get on stage, brandish their axe, and still drive the kid to the soccer game the next day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


NOW MAY 11 - 17, 2006 VOL. 25 NO. 37

T.O. Music Notes

Upcoming, Mamapalooza, Lula Lounge, May 14

If you're only thinking roses and chocolates when it comes to Mother's Day, Mamapalooza wants to change that. The brainchild of expat New Jersey-based Lynda Kraar (previously Lynda Marks), the daytime event hits the Lula Lounge May 14, bringing together local musicians eager to honour moms. On the hefty bill, among others, are Choirgirlz , Lenore, the Mad Housewives and the all-women Yiddish swing outfit the Sisters of Sheynville.

The Sisters, led by Lenka Lichtenberg and Isabel Fryszberg , started out as a near tribute band to the 30s group the Barry Sisters, but are now peppering their shtick-laden set with original material.

Lichtenberg, a mother of three, says she'll be bringing the kids to the gig, though it's not as if they've never heard her play.

"They know the material a little too well," the ebullient Lichtenberg admits. "We've been doing most of our rehearsing at our house. But I can't imagine a better way to celebrate Mother's Day -- with music and with the family."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Back to Ginger White's Scrabble tournament
for a 9-game marathon

NEWSFLASH!! Sunday, May 7 -- Ginger informs me that I actually WON First Place. Ginger writes:

"While compiling the validation for the NSA I discovered that really YOU and not Bob Kerr won - the total point spread for you was 929 and for Bob 837."

So my story is a BIT outdated, but the plays and facts about the wins -- other than the cume -- remains the on.....

Saturday, May 6, 2006 -- I took the trip this beautiful day to join my Scrabble friends at Ginger’s Scrabble tournament at the Adria Conference Center in Queens, NY.

(The picture of me with Ember Nelson has nothing to do with Bayside. It's from Albany in the fall, but Ember sent it to me and I have wanted to post it forever. I love this woman. She is a great Scrabbler, too.)

By dinnertime, after playing Scrabble since 9:30 a.m., my record in Division C was 8-1. My nearest opponent, Bob Kerr, also went 8-1. We were neck-in-neck, but he beat me by 40 points in cumulative spread, landing me in Second Place. This seems to be a pattern with me. I have to play up into the higher division. That will break me out of the glass ceiling of this division and jack up my national rating a bit.

Finally: My winnings of $62 are being donated to the American Technion Society in memory of our dear, cherished friend, Jay Yoskowitz, who tragically and suddenly left this world this past Tuesday. A light-hearted conversation with Jay's son and wife at the shiva house about their love of Scrabble led me to pledge that I'd do my best at the tournament in his memory. When I got home tonight, I called them first. They said that this donation would always be special to them. I did it "for the family."


OUREBIS (challenged)
COALIEsT (challenged)


TATsOIS (challenged)


DOJOS – 50
KUDZU – 38
FAZE – 40
OPERA – 32
BEIGEs – 33
AZO – 38
MAQUI – 36
FIGS – 36
QUIN – 30
JIMP – 30
HM – 30
FRAZzLED – 112 (highest word in my division)


(scores are listed as me v. opponent)

Holding ALO?TIC, I missed COITALLY, LOCALIST, LOCALITE, LOCALITY and TEOCALLI through an L, and COALPITS and TROPICAL through a P before finally placing COALIeST. That play was challenged.

Bernie plunked down the brash BOATY* to open and I ignored it. I wanted to see if his strategy was to play phonies. So when TATsOIS came down on the board, I immediately challenged. Guess what, tho: It’s new. "DUH!" I haven’t studied the new word list up to the T’s yet. Ouch. I laid down OUTGIVE and as I counted it up I realized I was jammed by a G on the board. (GOUTGIVE*? Don't think so!) So I played VOGUE and then VERVE in my next two turns. It was too late in the game to throw the Vs back.

With a K on the board, I had KNOTLESS, and wrote it in the margin, even though I was not totally sure about it. Instead, I blew one of my esses for 18 pts. with STOKE before bingoing with LEANERS.

The board was jammed and the northwest quadrant was blocked by V and C plays. Hence, I could neither get down ALUNItES nor INSULAtE.

SUE GABLE 422-295
Due to a board that was listing to the lee with no possible S/D/R/E hooks, I watched the parade of bingos on my rack, including RAVINED/INVADER, AVODIRE/AVOIDER, ROARING, TALLIES/TAILLES, OUTPACES and INOSITE.

BOB KERR 411-399
I never had a chance to get ROGUISH down, and instead played HOURIS before bingoing on the next turn with INGRATE , which ended at A14. A move that would drive us both nuts, with each of us waiting for that final S to be drawn from the bag. Bob played HEMATINE and I did a double take, anticipating HEMATITE (a hematine is a synthetic hematite). I held it in my momentary haze and let it stand (after the game, I realized I knew the word, which also works as HAEMATINE, HEMATIN and HAEMATIN/ANTHEMIA). After catching up with FAZE for 40 on the next turn, and it being so near the end with no S in sight, I finally couldn't take it anymore and shut down that threatening open A15 spot with ARB, ending at B15.

If only RESTAIN* was good. I would have hit the jackpot, including a double in two directions. However, STEARIN was the best I could eke out of the nine possible anagrams in that rack. I managed to bingo out with sNEAKIER.

In my only losing game, I sat with DISINTER/INDITERS/NITRIDES while Lee Lichtenstein leapt around the board with JULEP for 52, AX for 52 plus other nice pointy plays including the swank STYLIsT, which was the point of no return in our game.

Final Standing (unrevised):

Kerr, Bob 8 837
Kraar, Lynda 8 797
Lichtenstein, Lee 6 390
McMahon, Bernie 6 379
Snyder, Simon 5 292
Kasny, Raymond 4 206
Wancel, Linda 4 -300
Kirshenbaum, Sandy 3 -673
Gable, Sue 1 -476
Lichtenstein, Frances 0 -1595

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mamapalooza Madness in Manhattan!

Dear Friends,
Come on out and bring the family to Mamapalooza 2006! We are going to rock the joint again this year. This is your chance to support the best Mom rockers around! Scroll down for the link our MySpace site for the event. Looking forward to seeing you in Manhattan, Toronto.....OR BOTH!!!




95 Stanton Street {between Orchard & Ludlow}, NYC
7-11pm 212.995.1652

Featuring the talented MOMS

Pucker Cat Guthrie
Kathleen Pemble & Upstate
Lisa Martin Jen Chapin
Alison Byers Lisa Lipkin
Ruth Greenwood Ritsu
Elizabeth Schwartz Carol Lester
Lynda Kraar Catherine Moon Lisa Roma