Archive for May, 2006

Notes from Sasquatch!–Sunday


Alright, fine, everyone else is doing it. I only made it out to the Gorge–my first trip out there–for Sunday’s festivities, which means that I missed all the hail that apparently stopped Neko Case’s set short and caused moderate damage to a whole bunch of people. Good planning on my part, or anyway on the part of my ride.

So, highlights. (Briefly, ’cause I don’t want to be all “neener neener, you missed it!”)

–The Arctic Monkeys played my favorite set of the day and chastised our crowd surfers for being inept. Which they were. I spent most of my time at all of the mainstage shows down in the middle of the floor crowd, and I kept getting kicked in the head by truly poor crowd surfers. (Full disclosure: my new best friends in the crowd and I, half baked on second-hand cheap skunky weed fumes, decided that we were not so much on the floor level as, “In the middle of the mothafuckin’ dance party, bitches!”)

We Are Scientists charmed the heck out of the small crowd assembled, since most people were either finishing the Decemberists set or recovering from it. Cute, funny, and able to play a show that slid into my top three of the day list? I’m thisclose to becoming a groupie.

Death Cab for Cutie. At sunset. Possibly worth the drive all on their own, and Sean Nelson joined in for a song.

–A girl in front of me during Beck shouted, “Play something hardcore!” and she wasn’t even kidding.

Also, I’ve been referring to Damien Jurado as, “that douche with the keyboard” which is probably unfair, but he was in between me and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I was testy. So I hereby apologize to Mr. Jurado. He’s probably a perfectly nice guy.

In all, a good time was had, elephant ears were eaten, and I’m going to start a letter writing campaign to get We Are Scientists to come play in Seattle again, for all of us poor suckers that missed them last November.

Island Art

Not that you really need an excuse to visit beautiful San Juan Island, but if you were looking for an additional incentive to go, you should know that this coming weekend marks the 15th annual San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour, a self-guided tour of 15 different studios on the island, producing art in a wide variety of media.

While you’re there you could also take a boat tour, go fishing, rent a bike for a bike tour, visit the San Juan Island Historial Museum or the Whale Museum. They have an excellent farmers market, as well. There’s really a lot to do out in San Juan(San Juan Guide, Emily’s Guide) and neighboring Orcas (Orcas Chamber of Commerce) and Lopez Islands; unlike certain other islands in Washington, these places haven’t yet had all the local charm beaten out of them yet.

There are several private firms that will get you there, you can also use the Washington State Ferry system.

Candy’s dandy, but…

PICT0251.JPG Whiskey tasting set-up.
I like wine well enough, but I don’t love it. Nevertheless, I have always enjoyed the wine tasting I’ve attended that were hosted by someone knowledgeable about wine. Whiskey I do love. You can perhaps therefore imagine my excitement at getting the opportunity to attend a whiskey tasting.
photo courtesy Zee Grega

Upon entry, my companion and I were given a token each and entered into a lounge-like setting where we used our tokens to get a single drink and stood around eating snacks until the real show began. Along with a few dozen others, we were led into a multi-media theater where we all sat on 70s modular-style white couches in front of long tables holding a set up of various whiskeys, ginger ale, water, cola, and ice. A master blender gave us an interesting lecture on how whiskey is made, what the various types of whiskey are and the history of the brand for which she works. We were then led through a tasting of various whiskeys, with an explanation of what separates each one from another. In between tastings we were subject to video presentations that made little sense to me until I realized their purpose: pacing.

After a brief Q&A session with the master blender, (I was frankly shocked that it wasn’t until the fifth question someone asked the first thing that came to my mind: “How do you get such a great job?”) we were sent on our merry way. It was a fun and interesting hour; if you have the opportunity to attend a similar event, I would definitely recommend it. Also, I would highly recommend trying a whiskey margarita the next time you’re out.

sunday agenda : wordplay [5/5], russian dolls [?]

Wordplay 01
Ah, dreary holiday weekends. Just the sort of thing that makes you happy to be in the opening days of a gigantic film festival. A couple of suggestions for tonight:

  • Wordplay [siff] was originally conceived as a documentary about Will Shortz, the beloved puzzle editor of beloved New York Times crossword. Along the way, Shortz convinced director Patrick Creadon to visit his American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, Connecticut. There, he found a collegial dysfunctional family of crossword enthusiasts and a cast of characters to profile in the lead-up to the 2005 competition. As engaging as these extraordinary (solving Sunday puzzles in under 10 minutes) citizens are, their stories are not quite compelling enough to sustain an entire film. Rather than stretching their material into the Spellbound mold, Creadon wisely fleshes out the picture with crossword history, conversations crossword luminaries (Shortz and puzzle writer Merl Reagle), and interviews with celebrities. Bill Clinton makes the crowd long for the days of an eloquent newspaper-reader in the White House, Jon Stewart provides a hilarious take on facing the crossword, Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina analogizes team play to team crosswording, and the Indigo Girls reflect on similarities between songwriting and working through a series of up and down clues. Reagle takes us through the process of creating a puzzle from scratch, which the celebrities later face when it is published in the Times. The movie’s graphics are innovative and effective — we see what it looks like to solve an entire puzzle in two minutes, and follow along as the characters work through the clues. All of this contributes to the seemingly impossible realization of turning a solitary activity into the material of a highly dramatic nailbiter finale. This feels tailor-made for a Seattle audience. It screens tonight at 6:30 (Neptune) and will return later in the summer for wider release.
  • The expression on Romain Duris’s face as his character meets and falls in love with his new housemates in L’auberge espagnol is one of my favorite moments on film. I haven’t yet seen Russian Dolls [siff], the sequel which picks up with the Erasmus students five years after Barcelona, but if it’s even half as enjoyable as the original it is a safe bet for your Sunday night movie. It also has the advantage of having a title that is easier to pronounce. (9:15 at the Egyptian)

Bandoleone closing–again

When they tore down the building on Eastlake that held Porta, Hines, and Bandoleone, the neighborhood was upset. Porta closed, and Hines stuck around for a while in case the rumors that they would be able to move back in were true, but now they’ve gone to Canada. And Bandoleone, they moved to Fremont, where we could still visit them and remember what it was like to live somewhere with restaurants.

But now, thanks to the Fremont bridge construction and the resulting great big fence in front of the restaurant, Danielle Philippa is closing up shop [P-I]. If you want one last taste of their yummy Latin food, you’ve got today and tomorrow to give it a shot. After Sunday, the restaurant will close “indefinitely.”

saturday agenda : free show, celeb rock, filmed radio

yowza! just take a look at Saturday’s options. plus, we hear that there are a couple of festivals vying for your attention:

  • It is completely bizarre that Nada Surf is playing a free show tomorrow at Sonic Boom in Ballard. Stranger things have happened — such as their escaping novelty one hit wonder status that seemed inevitable after “Popular” to turn out one fantastic indie pop album after another. Rather than contemplate the weirdness (which may be related to their playing at Sasquatch), just accept it and be there by 2 pm.
  • Remember when the kid from Rushmore was in Phantom Planet. Before Jason Schwartzaman left the drums, his band recorded a song that became the opening theme for the O.C. Now the kid from the O.C. has a band, too. See Adam Brody in Big Japan [myspace] (not to be confused with Big Korea, a fictional band on the O.C.) tonight at the Crocodile for an early show. [ticketswest]
  • It’s another SIFF gala! A Prairie Home Companion [siff] screens at the Neptune; party to follow at a yet undisclosed location. Let’s all hope that the very vocal fellow from the opening night audience (the wizard in the utilikilt, turban, and renaissance faire armbands who spent the entire showing of the Illusionist yelling at the screen and avoided the mad rush to sample the gala food stops in favor of starting the disco dance party) skips this one. As of Friday afternoon, a few tickets were still available.

The Weekend Split: Folklife and Sasquatch

A few years ago, Memorial Day weekend in Seattle meant hanging with the non-lost wanderers at Folklife. Or, if you prefer, FolkDead. Or Tokelife. Or Splifflife. Or… this joke is already tired.

But with the advent of Sasquatch we now have two big options. Sasquatch is now part of the Big Altera-Indie Festival Circuit (with Coachella and Bonnaroo), so you get tens of thousands of people heading out to the Gorge, many of whom would have been at Folklife instead.

In a sense, it’s sad. Folklife offers a lot of different kinds of music that one isn’t normally exposed to in the course of a KNDD/KEXP/KUBE listening day. On the other hand, Sasquatch is drawing some great bands that Bumbershoot has had trouble attracting the last few years — notably, the Flaming Lips and NIN. They’re just two festivals going in two different paths.

But if you haven’t chosen your path, it’s been chosen for you. Sasquatch is sold out. It’s tie-dye and Afro-Celt bluegrass shows on your schedule.

And if you’re going this afternoon, Friend O’ The Blog Ali Marcus is playing at 3pm on the Alki Stage. You were going to blow off work this afternoon anyway, right?

friday agenda : canadians, danish mafia, siffcetera


  • Not making the trek out to George, Washington to Sasquatch? The Constantines are playing the Gorge on Saturday, but they’re also doing a show at the Crocodile tonight.
  • Speaking of Canadian rock, like any good citizen of the Montreal scene Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade has a side project. The online demos suggest that Handsome Furs sounds a lot like a stripped-down, more exposed version of Wolf Parade. Which is not a bad thing at all. [sunset]
  • SIFF swings into full gear tonight. Find out what makes EMP architect Frank Gehry tick [mb], watch Helena Bonham-Carter and Aaron Eckhart relate [mb], high drama on the nineteenth-century australian outback [mb], or dive into the world of Danish mafia with the Pusher trilogy [siff].

Breaking: Bellevue’s main street closes

From my vantage point high above the city, I have a great view of something I never thought I’d see: Bellevue’s NE 8th Ave, closed in the middle of lunch hour. Of course, the culprit is long gone — one of two bank robbers who tried to rob the bank across the street; but apparently a bag was left behind on the scene that may have held explosives. Whatever it held, the results are clear from up here: a one block closure all the way around the bank, and traffic being forced to detour around to get to and from Bellevue’s lunchtime destinations (the Twin malls (what I’ve taken to calling Bellevue and Lincoln Squares)).

I can already tell you that the buzz on my floor ensures none of us are getting any work done. In fact, if you look up right now, we’ll be waving at you. Wave back.

(Postscript: I know earlier this year, there was a brief newsbyte on TV about there being an average of one bank robbery somewhere in Washington, almost every business day this year so far. I feel like I’m living in astonishing times, considering fewer banks are carrying enough money to be worth robbing, these days.)

Barker to retire


Image, via PNB

We all knew that this was coming eventually, but Patricia Barker, principal dancer for the PNB, has announced that she will be retiring at the end of the 2006-2007 season [PNB]. She’s been with the company for 26 seasons, and at 43 has continued dancing long past the time when most people would have retired.

I volunteer for the PNB, and the nights that I’m in the gift shops the things people want the most are Patricia Barker memorabilia. She’s even got her own line of dancewear. (If you’re a collector of signed ballet shoes, I imagine they’ll be selling Barker’s shoes again–they were holding off until she announced her retirement.)

To celebrate her career there will be a special lecture on the 6th of June, with film clips and a Q & A session [PNB].

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