SIFF 2014: Day Four

This day was reserved for Burt’s Buzz, a documentary focusing on the Burt from Burt’s Bees and his relationship with the company he founded. I got called away out of town so missed it, but I had someone go in my stead.

"It's about the conflict between small 
business owners and corporate capitalism... 
and a love story!" -- Karl Myers

I’m sure it will be on Netflix eventually, and I will see it then.

Afterward there was a visit to the newly opened Flatstick Pub in Kirkland. Indoor mini-golf! Exactly what we need in this drizzly region. Hopefully the idea will take off and someone will open an indoor mini-golf in Seattle proper. Sorry, Eastside, but I just don’t want to go there! I will, however, make at least one trip to Kirkland for a round.

My travels also caused me to miss Me, Myself and Mum, a French/Belgian film where the main character is also his own mother. It’s screening again on Sunday, so maybe one of you will see it and tell me if it is as good as I think it might be. Anyway, watch the trailer!

An Update for the Sake of Updating

Speaking of sake, I now have only five more to try to complete my Dragonfish sake club card (out of twenty-two).
Monday night completed my very first season in a bowling league. Personally, I did fairly well considering I bowl once every pon farr, or thereabouts. (apologies for that reference) I met some nice, interesting people and had a fun time. I may do it again in the near future.
The Sounders must have lost a coin toss to be stuck opening the season against the L.A. Galaxy. There was no way Sounders would win, and that’s what we call ‘starting off on the wrong foot’.  It was an exciting game, however, in really nice seats thanks to the unfortunate timing of illness for a very nice woman.
One of my friends lost her job (unfairly, I might add) and tomorrow is her last day. It is a tough time for a lot of people, and this was a particularly sucky situation. I hope that good things will come out of this for her, that this loss will set her on a fortunate path.
Over the last several years, I’ve had the occasional dream wherein I’ve uprooted myself and returned to New York to continue my education and further my career. These are generally very good dreams, but always twinged with a thought of “am I really doing the right thing?” In recent weeks, I’ve had the occasional dream wherein I’m just leaving, moving somewhere else. In these dreams, I am overall happy and content, and there is no question of whether I’m doing the right thing. In fact, the most recent version had me packing up my things and joining with a friend/love interest for a trip around the country. The intent was to go to a town, try it on for size, and if it didn’t fit we’d move on to the next town, with the idea that maybe we’d stop at the first town we came across, or maybe we’d never find the one that fit. Either way – or else somewhere in between – we were perfectly OK with that.  I felt pretty good waking from that dream, and I intend to ponder its meaning for a while.
I purchased my first ever PBS item and it is currently on its way to my domicile – Lidia’s Italy: 140 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Ten Places in Italy Lidia Loves Most. Lidia has kept me company on many sleepless nights, and I’ve been meaning to get one of her books and cook one of her dishes myself. I’m pretty excited.
And that, my friends, is that. (for now)

My Day With DeVotchKa

Saturday May 3rd was my day with DeVotchKa. It started early, for a Saturday, at The Triple Door. I took DJ Gort as my plus-one for a KEXP Club Concert. I’ve been to several of these events over the last few years, and they do not disappoint. The Triple Door is made for music. The seating is dinner theatre style – a lot of half-moon booths with tables facing the stage. The walls are wood and the acoustics are heavenly. It sounds so good in there, I was a tiny bit afraid I’d be disappointed later that night. They played a few from the new album and a few “oldies”. Lead singer Nick Urata wasn’t very talkative, which is a shame. It’s such an intimate setting, it begs for some witty repartee. Gort managed to fall asleep, the sounds were so soothing. You can listen to the performance through the KEXP website (May 3, 4:06 PM).

After the performance, we caught a matinee showing of the new Pacino film “88 Minutes” where Gort fell asleep again. I don’t blame him, though. The movie was horrid. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it really was not good. What made it worse was that it was set in Seattle. Some scenes were actually filmed here, and most were not. No rhyme or reason to that, either. I almost feel like they filmed as many days as they could in Seattle, then when their permit ran out, they headed north to Vancouver. It seemed sloppy, and the script was dumb dumb dumb. (IMDb says it was all filmed in Vancouver.)

Went back home for a nap, then headed down to the Showbox Sodo. This was my first time in the venue for a concert. I had been twice before for AIS student fashion shows. I got there after doors opened, but still managed to get a nice spot next to the stage. The opening act was singer Basia Bulat, a sweet looking blondie from Canada accompanied by a violist, a cellist, and a ukulele player. Ms. Bulat kicked some improbable butt on a zither (aka autoharp) while singing her own songs. She also played acoustic guitar on about half of the songs. Her sound was a little folk, a little country. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I was impressed enough to buy her cd for my sister today.

Bulat and band left the stage, then after what seemed like forever, an acrobat leapt across the stage tossing silk flowers into the audience. Upon her exit came DeVotchKa and they played. They had pretty much the identical setup as they did at the Triple Door. Here they had an electronic keyboard instead of a piano. Their roadies had notebooks telling them where every instrument, every microphone, every music stand and chair should be. One guy in particular seemed to be in charge and he was meticulous. I hope he’s getting paid well.

I had a very good position at stage left where I could watch the string section pretty much up close. I am fairly sure I developed a crush on Tom Hagerman that night. The intensity and apparent ease he displays on the violin is breathtaking. A second violinist plus Bulat’s violist and cellist made up the quartet. I’m a sucker for strings, so I was quite captivated. DeVotchKa started out with older songs from previous albums. Energetic and flawless, if I were a different person, I would have been dancing along. It was quite a delight to see Jeanie Schroder doing knee bends in time with the music with that shiny sousaphone wrapped around her. They got some new songs in as well in the hour they were on stage. They exited but the show was not over.

AlexandrA, an aerialist, came out onto the floor not more than 10 feet from where I stood. Her cloth (for lack of the correct term) had been let loose from the scaffolding and she climbed on. Twisting and turning, wrapping and flipping, she performed her tricks for us as the band snuck back to play for her. When she was done, the band played a few more songs. This was followed by an encore consisting of a 10 or 15 minute jam of “Such a Lovely Thing”.

By the end, I was hot and I was exhausted. But I was very satisfied.

Anonymous no more

During my sophomore and junior years at Southwest High School, a handful of friends and I published a ‘zine before we even knew what a ‘zine was. We called it an underground newspaper, and we dubbed it Anonymous! We vowed to each other that we would not reveal to anyone outside the publication our involvement.

Initially, it was just my friend Angela and me, and we wrote in several personas in order to make it appear more people were on staff. Over time, a few more people figured out what we were doing and joined in. We didn’t talk about it explicitly at school, and denied it ferociously if questioned. In fact, I had one friend and reader who was so obsessed with getting me to admit I had a part in it, that he eventually became my stalker, even after I moved to New York for college. The front page of the first farewell issue was directed toward him.

The first issues were photocopied at the Boy Scout office during Angela’s brother’s meetings. Later, one of our teachers offered, hypothetically of course, to make copies for us in the teachers’ lounge on the sly. We had other support among the teaching staff, mostly of the moral kind. At some point, we were also noticed by the head honchos, and we had to find another copy source. My mom was gracious enough to take up the challenge, and we mailed off our mock-ups 250 miles away to Houston for printing.

We closed up shop when half the staff graduated and Angela and I lost interest in each other. It was a lot of fun while it lasted. The most amazing thing about it was that we had an actual readership and subscribers, even.

Recently, I was reunited with all the issues of Anonymous!, thanks to my wonderful mother, who had been keeping them safe and well-archived for all these years. And now, for the first time since 1991, they are available for public consumption. I make no claims as to the quality – some are really quite bad in fact – but I think it is a neat piece of nostalgia. Keeping true to the name, we never claimed ownership of any of our original writing. If we did put a name to it, it was a pseudonym, mainly to keep up appearances of having more people on staff than actuality. Some of the pieces I know for certain were written by me, others I’m not so sure.

Now, seventeen years later, I reveal my fellow staffmembers (those that I can remember, anyway), in no particular order: myself, Angela C., Sean S., George P., Gabriel B.

I apologize to anyone I forgot, and to those I remember (in the event they still don’t want to claim involvement) .

And without further ado, I give to you Anonymous!

Top 10 of 2007

It’s the end of the year, and everyone is thinking back to all the good stuff and bad stuff from the last 12 months. All the DJs are putting out their Top Ten songs and albums of the year. There are probably Top Ten news stories in various places. Top Ten This, Top Ten That. I thought I might make my own list. So I thought and I thought, for at least five or ten minutes, but nothing came to mind. Well, one thing did come to mind – the Top Ten Indescribable Things That Happened in 2007 That Made it Unique From All the Other Years I’ve Been Alive.

For instance, I started this blog in 2007. I got the Tassajara Bread Book this year after seeing the film How to Cook Your Life. I played Quake again after like 10 years. I used Flexcar. My buddy Alex finally came to visit me after years of my badgering. I bought a new DVD player. The QFC opened two blocks from my apartment. The Tower Records two blocks away closed then became a Silver Platters which I never go to. (I rarely went to Tower, either.) The only marriage for which I’ve been a member of the wedding party (since my sister’s when I was 18) ended in divorce. I finally bought rain boots after living in Seattle for nine years.

I think that’s 10 things. I don’t know if that’s Top or Bottom, and I’m not sure what the long term effects of those things are – hence the “indescribable”. But they happened. And who cares?

So here’s my real Top Ten.

The Top Ten Wasabi Peas of 2007:

Top Ten Wasabi Peas

And then there were none.

Music vs. Music vs. Music

This week I spent a few days down in Los Angeles where it is about twenty degrees warmer than it is in Seattle right now. There is also much less water in the air. I used to despise California and L.A. in particular, but now that I’ve got good friends there, I’ve been able to see some good points. One of those good points would have to be the proliferation of live music.

We had three live music experiences during my stay. The first was Davíd Garza at Largo. Mr. Garza is one of several dark-haired male singer-songwriters for which I am gaga. I haven’t seen him perform for several years and was very much looking forward to Wednesday night’s performance. In fact, I timed my arrival in Los Angeles specifically so that I could attend. I could be tainted by memory, but I was expecting something different, better. However, I blame it on the venue. When I last saw Garza at the Green Room in Seattle, it was a small, intimate affair. Garza told stories, took a lot of requests, and played what seemed like a very long time. I sat quietly in the back, but I really felt energized and uplifted by the performance. At Largo, though, I didn’t. The club has so many rules for the patrons to follow, I just didn’t feel all that relaxed. On top of that, the show itself didn’t seem to last very long and had a very measured feel about it. Largo seemed to be too much of a controlled environment for a nonconformist musician like Davíd Garza. I enjoyed seeing him perform again, but I would have liked to enjoy it more.

Our second live music event was Friday night at the Troubadour and was a performance by Imperial Teen. I’ll admit that when I first learned of the plan, I wasn’t all that excited. I imagined that the show would be noisy indie musicians playing to a crowd of annoying scenesters. I knew I had heard Imperial Teen songs, but couldn’t readily bring any to mind. Anyway, I told myself it was work stress that was putting such a negative spin on the event, and that I would probably enjoy it if I kept an open mind. The Troubadour is a very nice space, as it turns out (aside from the smell of many alcohol-infused, late-night rock shows). The balcony where we sat afforded us a very nice, pretty close view of the stage. And once the show got underway, I was reminded how much I like them. I recognized all but one or two songs, and they were all performed very well. And the nice thing about Imperial Teen is that all the band members look like real people.

Imperial Teen

After leaving the Troubadour, we found ourselves at Canter’s Delicatessen, where we had our third live music experience. This one was provided by the attached Kibitz Room. While we had our late night nosh at Canter’s, we were serenaded by Pigeon Brigade and their truly awesome guitar. This guy is the next Steve Vai, I swear! Kaz had to get a photo:

Photo by Kaz

We actually had a fourth live music experience. This one was a continuous and intermittant (is that contradictory?) one. Our host, Mike, being a music professional, has a tendency to pick up a guitar from time to time (or a ukelele or whatever’s handy) and start playing. We heard all sorts of things from Rush to Journey to Nilsson to Mike’s own songs. For me, this fourth experience is a very good reason to like L.A.