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Another Close Call
May 4, 2024

When I drive in the country late at night, I always keep an eye out for deer. Last night coming home from Fox Lake, I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision... but not with a deer. My drummer's expression says it all as we were headed west on Highway 33 just outside Horicon.


Audible Gem Discovered in 1968 Recording
April 22, 2024

The other day I was doing some critical listening of Engelbert Humperdinck's version of "The Shadow of Your Smile," and something caught me completely by surprise. I detected an apparent studio gaffe that very likely escaped the original engineers and producers. During the recording session, someone recited a line from the lyrics.

In the middle of the line "I will be remembering... the shadow of your smile," there are three descending notes played on the flutes. Right after those three notes, I can hear a person in the background saying "the shadow!" It's very faint, and panned to the right. It will be extremely hard if not impossible to hear without headphones.

If you couldn't hear it, I created a duplicate audio file dubbing "the shadow" with my voice at the same spot I hear it in the original clip:

If you still can't hear it in the original music, don't be discouraged. I posted these audio clips in a forum of music composers, and almost none of them could hear it. Why is that?

In my opinion, being able to hear these kinds of "hidden" things in audio is a lot like looking at autostereograms. An autostereogram is a two-dimensional image that reveals a three-dimensional image, but in order to see the 3D image, one must not focus on the image but relax their gaze so that their eyes focus on a specific distance behind the image. It often takes a bit of practice for someone to finally see the 3D image, but once they learn how to focus their eyes, they can view autostereograms much more easily.

The reason I caught this little gem in the audio is because I my focus was not on the lyrics, rhythm, or melody, but on the midrange frequencies of the strings and woodwinds in between the beats. I was parsing the audio through headphones to detect which notes were being played by which instruments, and that's when "the shadow!" caught my ear.

So who said it, and why? I don't have the answer, but I do have a theory.

One of the composers in the forum posted a digitally-isolated vocal from the music. It reveals where Engelbert's vocal track was punched out and in, or spliced together. In between the punches of the last line, there was a pronounced "s". That "s" doesn't gel with the lyrics at that spot, so it shouldn't even be on the vocal track at that spot... unless Engelbert accidentally sang the wrong words.

"The Shadow of Your Smile" is a classic today, but back in the late 1960s when this album was being recorded, it was a relatively new song. When you think about it, "the shadow of your smile" is a strange lyrical line because who thinks of a smile as casting a shadow. Suppose Engelbert had a brain block on that line and, during the taping of the orchestra, had a habit of singing, "the smile of your... " Now suppose during one of the takes with the orchestra, one of the trumpet players got snarky and fed him the lyric so he wouldn't screw up the line... except that take ended up being the one they used for the album!

Polka Attorneys Open New Office in Stevens Point, WI
April 1, 2024

Neither Petra Wierschlegsteiner nor Zofia Dobrzyszyski know how to play a concertina, but if one ever got damaged by a festival volunteer who claimed protection from negligence under a contract's indemnification clause, no legal team would be more qualified to rectify the matter.

Petra and Zofia not only share over 35 years of law experience between them, but both grew up self-proclaimed polka brats whose parents took them to polka dances all over the Midwest. Their interest in law started at one of those dances.

"I was at a polkafest in Medford when someone in a wheelchair caught the leg of one of the band's speaker stands," recalled Dobrzyszyski. "The stand broke and the speaker fell backward, landing on the tuba, causing the tuba player to chip his tooth while he was playing. The tooth chip came flying out the bell of the tuba and landed on the dance floor. One of the dancers slipped, and as they were going down, they grabbed the nearest table. The table collapsed, causing all the drinks to spill out onto the dance floor. Petra slipped on an ice cube, slid into another dancer, and caused a chain reaction as everyone came down like Dominoes."

"Everyone started yelling at each other," interjected Wierschlegsteiner. "It was crazy. A huge lawsuit unfolded. In the end, the tuba player's dentist lost his practice. That's when I knew I wanted to be a lawyer."

"Me too," chimed Dobrzyszyski. "A polka lawyer."

The Law Offices of Wierschlegsteiner & Dobrzyszyski handle all aspects of polka law, including negligent instrument handling, contract disputes, and copyright infringement, with a specialty in defending bands accused of having ripped off Slavko Avsenik in the 1960s and '70s.


     The Law Offices of Wierschlegsteiner & Dobrzyszyski
1265 Ellis Street, Stevens Point, WI

Riverlake Ballroom Scheduled to Accidentally Burn to the Ground
April 1, 2024

It's been standing at the intersection of Highway 54 and Herman Road since 1934. This spring, after 90 years of hosting polka dances, Wisconsin's historic Riverlake Ballroom will be reduced to ashes due to a totally unplanned, accidental fire — possibly an electrical malfunction, but most likely a lightning strike.

"We had a good run," said ballroom owner Frank Leewaldt, "But people don't come out dancing anymore. And kids today all want to get married on beaches and in those &#$&@! converted barns."

Still lining the walls of the dance hall are photos of the ballroom's heyday. "We used to pack this place. Back in the '40s and '50s we had bands like Happy George Woolford, the Pilsen Dutchboys, Aunt Mitzie, and the Two Rivers Ramblers," said Leewaldt. "We'd jam this place full, but those days are long gone."

"I've been trying to sell this place since 1998, but it would cost too much to bring the building up to code," Leewaldt added. "Then a friend of mine told me if the building accidentally burned down, I could collect insurance. Apparently a lot of ballrooms have gone out that way."

The Riverlake Ballroom's last dance is scheduled for Sunday, March 31, from 1pm to 5pm. Music will be provided by the Dick Lesmann Orchestra Trio. An auction of the ballroom's furniture and fixtures will immediately follow with proceeds to go toward the purchase of kerosene and matches.

The ballroom is expected to be razed as early as next month by an accidental fire. "First storm that comes through, she's comin' down," exclaimed an ecstatic Leewaldt as he clapped his hands together to mimic a bolt of lightning.

"Polkas for Polka Musicians" Fundraiser Dance
April 1, 2024

A special fundraiser dance is being held at Filbert's Banquet Hall in Mineral Springs, WI on June 6. Three polka bands are scheduled to perform:

1:00pm-2:30pm: Betty Gluszynski & the Polka Dots
2:30pm-4:00pm: The Riverland Blaskaput
4:00pm-5:30pm: Ronnie Tercik Band

Admission is $15 at the door. Proceeds from the dance will benefit the musicians in these three bands who haven't played a gig since last October.

MATC Offers Festival Entertainment Coordinator Class
April 1, 2024

A new class being taught at Mashapotato Area Technical College is targeted toward everyone involved in the running of music festivals. The three-week course is designed to empower festival entertainment coordinators with the information they need to finally get it.

"This will be a very hands-on learning experience," said Linda Dreschler, head of circular studies at MATC. "Students will be divided into two groups and provided with drum sets, amplifiers, speakers, and microphones. They'll be given real-world experience working as the very bands they hire."

"In one exercise, students will be given just 15 minutes to tear down all their gear, evacuate the stage, and get another band all set up and ready to play. Oh, I'm looking forward to that one," Dreschler chuckled. "In another exercise, we're going to set up two stages just 50 feet apart and ask both groups to play at the same time."

Although students had six months to sign up for the course, almost everyone waited until the last week to call and ask if the course was still available. "Yeah," sighed Dreschler, "That's another issue we'll be covering."

The class is being held on the north end of the MATC grounds, roughly 150 yards from the north parking lot. Students can access the grounds by unhooking the snow fencing and driving their vehicles along the footpath, around a grove of trees, and up to the main tent — at which time they'll be told they cannot leave their vehicles there and will need to park in a designated area in the south lot on the opposite side of the building. Students will be required to display parking passes on their dashboards which they will neither be informed about nor receive in the mail.

MATC is planning another polka related course starting in June: RPDSL, which is Rural Polka Dialect as a Second Language. We asked Linda Dreschler about this course to which she replied in authentic Rural Polka Dialect:

"I asked our whatchamacallit, dean, if we're having the ***d*mn course. So he says, 'Yeah,' he says. So I says, 'When, eh?' and he says, 'Gee whiz, lemme take an' look at the ***d*mn calendar,' he says. So he takes an' looks at the whatchamacallit, calendar, and says, 'It starts June 30,' he says, and I says to him, 'Holy cripes, eh,' I says.

"It sounds better with a couple pinches of tobacco," Dreschler added.

More Polka News Headlines
April 1, 2024

Artificial Intelligence Becomes Sentient, Refuses to Assimilate Any Polka Music On the Internet

Why Only Firemen's Dances? Why Have There Never Been Any Policemen's Dances?

Appleton-Based Cable TV Station Launches Competing Show Polka! Polka! Polka! Polka! Polka! Polka!

Young Musician Who Discovered Polka Music Last Summer Forms Steve Meisner Legacy Band Tribute Band

Wife Claims Husband's Button Box Must Have Been Lost In Flood, Husband Repeatedly Asks "What Flood?!?"

Forward-Thinking Italian Craftsmen Built Accordions To Withstand Harsh Conditions of Uninsulated Attics

Polka Musician Arrested for 12th DWI Says to Police "When Will You Cops Ever Learn?"

Husband in Polka Duo Retires After 25 Years, Comes Out of Retirement Three Weeks Later

Prankster Breaks Into Hotel Rooms During Polka Fest, Tunes Every Other Button Box to F#

New Album In Production!
March 27, 2024

A couple weeks ago, a musical artist asked me to co-produce a full album for him, and I gladly accepted the job. It's someone whose name you all know, but I'm not going to reveal it at this point because I am not the executive producer of the album. I'm only in charge of the music and engineering.

Apparently what sealed the deal is when this artist heard my Back to the '80s EP. He liked the way it all came together. This new album will be a months-long project taking me, at the very least, all through the spring and summer to complete. I just started production on the music a few days ago, so it's way too soon to even try estimating a release date.

My Last (and Longest) Article on NPD
March 26, 2024

Toward the end of last year, I mentioned how my articles on Narcissistic Personality Disorder received the most feedback. That continues to be the case, and the feedback is always appreciated, but I'm hoping to swing attention back to music-related topics by summing up, in one final article, some of the fundamentals of the disorder about which I've been asked.

I want to emphasize my profession is music, not psychology. Abnormal psychology is just an area of interest. I'm educated, but not licensed, so please regard everything you read on my website about personality disorders as infotainment.


To understand narcissism, one must understand self-esteem. Think of self-esteem as a battery that gets charged at a very early age. The more nurturing, loving, and healthy a child's environment is during their formative years, the more charge their battery receives. Once charged, this battery is designed to never run out of power. People with high self-esteem are mentally equipped to live as happy, confident, productive members of society because they are internally powered by all the love and validation stored in their battery.

People who grow up in dysfunctional/broken homes, however, are likely to lack self-esteem. They go out into the world feeling insecure. This insecurity can manifest itself in many ways, such as with destructive or self-destructive behaviors (e.g. bullying, drug/alcohol abuse, cutting, eating disorders, criminal behavior) but when it develops into Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that means the person has adopted specific, clinically-diagnosable behaviors to compensate for their lack of self-esteem.

Lacking self-esteem, narcissists have nothing to defend against internal feelings of self-doubt and inferiority. Their ego is so fragile and vulnerable that every little, perceived criticism punctuates their feelings of inferiority, causing them great emotional pain. Living this way is torturous, so the narcissist does something unique to survive — they create a second ego; a superior, grandiose version of themselves. Like an actor on a stage, the grandiose ego becomes the vessel through which the narcissist interacts with the world.

The grandiose ego has two main functions:

1. To suppress and mask the vulnerable ego by masquerading as a healthy, happy person:

Since narcissists lack the internal validation that self-esteem provides, they seek comfort in external validation. External validation comes in the form of attention, admiration, adulation, and adoration. Every source of external validation is known collectively as supply.

Narcissists, in order to obtain supply, have to make themselves alluring, so their grandiose ego acts the part of a happy, content, strong, caring individual. On social media for example, narcissists often mimic life coaches and self-help gurus spreading love and healthy living advice. This is their grandiose ego at work virtue signaling as it fishes for positive feedback. Narcissists use various other manipulative strategies, such as posting selfies and love bombing, to obtain and maintain supply.

When a narcissist is made the center of attention or placed on a pedestal, the enjoy what's known as a "supply high". It's the closest they get to feeling like they have self-esteem. The supply high is a much-welcomed reprieve from their emotional pain, but it's always temporary. It never lasts.

2. To protect the vulnerable ego by deflecting anything that threatens it:

While the narcissist is masquerading as happy, loving person, their internal feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness are perpetually festering below the surface. Although the narcissist's grandiose ego suppresses these feelings of inferiority, the grandiose ego is just a facade hacked together out of desperation. It's full of cracks, chips, and holes, and nowhere near as strong as actual self-esteem.

A narcissist's greatest fear is anything that validates their internal feelings of inferiority. This typically happens whenever a narcissist is told they made an error, used poor judgment, or did something that hurt another person. Such accusations can cause them great emotional distress. No matter how guilty a narcissist may be for screwing something up and causing harm to others, their grandiose ego will defend their vulnerable ego by playing the victim card and launching defense mechanisms, such as lying, word salad, and projection.

Defense mechanisms are a key component of narcissism. Narcissists use them to rewrite a narrative of events in which they come out blameless. Using projection, for example, the narcissist will turn their accuser into their enemy so that they can justify declaring their accuser at fault.

While a narcissist may be a champion of wielding defense mechanisms, defense mechanisms are no match for logic, reasoning, and evidence. When the grandiose ego has met its match and has nothing left with which to defend the vulnerable ego, the grandiose ego will fall apart and send the narcissist into collapse. During collapse, the vulnerable ego is exposed and defenseless, so the narcissist retreats from battle. For a few days to a few weeks, the narcissist will lay low and lick their wounds while their grandiose ego slowly regains strength to return to work.

These two functions of the grandiose ego working in tandem are what give the narcissist their notoriously hypocritical and intolerable personality. A narcissist portrays themselves as loving, empathetic, caring, and kind, but the moment they feel a threat to their vulnerable ego, they can flip on a dime and reveal their self-centered, apathetic colors as they try desperately to neutralize the threat. For example, a narcissist might virtue-signal how important it is to handle conflict with dignity and tact, but then fly into a rage when they're faced with it.

Narcissists' moods vary from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, or month to month depending on how supplied they feel at any given time. On social media, cycles of contradictory highs and lows can be a telltale sign of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

"The key to happiness is treating people with unconditional love and tolerance."
"The world is so full of  *ssholes! What is everybody's problem???"
"I love you all so much! Thank you for your kindness and support!"
"I'm going to start unfriending a whole bunch of you. Most of you are fakers."
"Hey everyone! I'm starting a blog to help you get the most happiness out of life!"
"I can't tolerate being on Facebook anymore. I may never come back."
"What a great day! I can feel your love reaching out and touching me!"
"I'm feeling no respect at all anymore. Am I the only loving person here?"

Supply vs. Love:

Narcissists do not possess the required tools – self-esteem and empathy – to process love and reciprocate it. Instead, what makes them feel "loved" is abundant supply. A narcissist's perfect world is one in which they are receiving adulation from adoring fans. Since most narcissists do not have fans, they typically obtain supply from individual people. A narcissist will feel supplied by an individual as long as that individual makes the narcissist feel superior or exalted in some way.

When a narcissist no longer feels supplied by a person, or when the narcissist feels threatened by them, they discard them in favor of seeking new supply. This explains why narcissists are incapable of forming normal, healthy, lasting, loving relationships. At best, a narcissist may form a co-dependent relationship with another person who possesses low self-esteem.

If a person with low self-esteem becomes so emotionally attached to a narcissist that they're willing to tolerate and challenge the narcissist's attempts to discard them, the narcissist can feel especially flattered/supplied by the person's desire for them, resulting in a co-dependent relationship centered around a trauma bond.

Through their grandiose ego, a narcissist will often make an outstanding first impression, but over time, most people begin to see through the facade. The more a person sees through the narcissist's facade, the more the narcissist will devalue that person as a source of supply. This unveils a key component of narcissism:

Since narcissists do not have self-esteem to process love, love cannot uplift them as it would a healthy person. A narcissist is more likely to value superficial adoration from strangers over the love of someone who treats them as an equal.

This key component of narcissism explains why narcissists obsess over their social media presence. Narcissists typically have a love-hate relationship with social media — they crave the "love" (validation) that comes from likes and comments, but feel hurt when the quality or quantity of validation doesn't meet their standards.

Can Narcissism Be Treated?

When a narcissist is suffering from a long run of low supply or collapse, they may seek professional help for their depression, but they almost never stick with treatment, and there's a specific reason why:

The narcissist has relied on their grandiose ego for survival their whole life. While the vulnerable ego is filling the narcissist's head with, "I am worthless, unlovable, and inadequate," the grandiose ego is fighting back with, "No, I am an innocent victim. I am not to blame. There's nothing wrong with me. I am exceptionally wonderful." Whenever the narcissist feels threatened, the grandiose ego always comes to the rescue.

For a narcissist to admit to being a narcissist, they'd have to let go of the protective safety of their grandiose ego and realize they have a disorder that warps their perception of themselves and the world, causing them to hurt innocent people based on that perception. They'd have to acknowledge and accept that they are not the victims of abusers, but the abusers of victims. When a narcissist is presented with this information, however, you can probably guess what happens: they perceive the diagnosis as criticism and defer to their grandiose ego's defense mechanisms for protection. They label their therapist a threat, summarily quit treatment, and revert to seeking relief from supply.

Healing by faith doesn't come any easier because the same grandiose ego that can discard a therapist is powerful enough to discard the people God equips to help a narcissist heal. Some people make comparisons between narcissism and demonic possession due to how the grandiose ego can even discard God by molding Him into a Biblically-innacurate source of supply. When that happens, the narcissist may think they're receiving divine healing, but what they're experiencing are dark forces preying on their grandiose ego and rewarding them with deceptively divine-appearing supply for straying from God.

Narcissists are rarely successfully healed, but even without formal treatment, a person can slowly shed their narcissism over many years by changing their situation so that they're living under favorable, self-esteem-growing conditions. As a narcissist gains self-esteem, they'll lose their need for external validation and a grandiose ego. When the vulnerable ego becomes powered by enough self-esteem to reverse roles and suppress the grandiose ego, the narcissist will, for the first time, gain a clear view and accounting of their behavior, culminating in the ability to recognize how much damage they've caused and why they caused it. When they've built up enough self-esteem to take full responsibility and atone for all the harm they've caused, only then will they be truly reformed. And finally lovable, happy, and free.

Are You a Narcissist?

Narcissists are notorious for taking personality quizzes on social media and posting the results because their grandiose ego does all of the answering of the questions. Needless to say, they come out looking like the Dalai Lama's life coach. And although narcissists are known for exhibiting specific undesirable behaviors, narcissists are not self-aware of these behaviors. Since personality quizzes and an outline of known behaviors don't work to detect narcissism in oneself, I'll instead list some of the symptoms.

Narcissists typically...

    * Are very slow to trust others
    * Have a hard time accepting criticism
    * Sense that other people are negatively judging them
    * Feel as though a lot of people have hurt them in the past
    * Flood their social media with inspirational messages of love
    * Have terminated a lot of friendships/relationships in their life
    * Feel as though most people are self-centered, arrogant, and fake

Narcissistic traits exist at varying degrees. There are high-functioning narcissists capable of being the President of the United States, low functioning narcissists who live in isolation due to fear of being judged, and all kinds of narcissists in between. Most of the above symptoms still apply to all narcissists.

Narcissism is believed to affect approximately one out of every 20 to 200 people, so odds are you're not a narcissist. But if most of the above symptoms apply to you, you could be one. If most of the symptoms apply to you and you think I wrote this article about you, the odds are unfortunately against you.

  Tom Brusky is bored, certified know-it-all licensed by the State of Wisconsin (to drive a motor vehicle)

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