Archive for August, 2008

PAX 2008: Sunday

Booth Babe, courtesy of ECityBlues

I won’t lie- my Sunday morning at PAX was a religious experience (and no, not because of the booth babes).

I got to meet Metblogs Employee #3 (*cough* Wil Wheaton), and discovered an enduring love for Battlefield: Heroes, a new game from the folks who created Battlefield 1942.

Since the vast majority of my day was spent in front of a computer trying to learn how to drive tanks and shoot bazookas, I neglected to attend the Omegathon Final Round, which was VS Excitebike for the Famicon. Having seen the Jenga-fueled intensity that was the previous round of the Omegathon, I wasn’t sure I could handle the excitement of ExciteBike. But I can tell you that Joey Geko won an epic competition on a game that was only released in Japan.

Before getting sucked in to PC Freeplay, I slid into the Wil Wheaton panel by the skin of my teeth (lesson learned: take early bus, and don’t leave your program at home). I was just in time to hear him recite a lyrical bit of spoken word poetry. He followed up by reading an excerpt from his book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, and answer the burning question: How can a panel consist of a single man?

Wil’s answer: “Like this, baby.”

I intended to ask all the geek superstars the same question, but, as I mentioned before, Battlefield: Heroes ate up my day, and so I was only able to ask Wheaton what his weirdest moment at PAX 2008 was. His answer?


Bumbershoot update: T.I., Kathleen Edwards, films

kathleen edwards; photo by josh, courtesy icecreamman

kathleen edwards; photo by josh, courtesy icecreamman

There was a surprisingly long line for the Polish animation program at SIFF Cinema today; I know the Polish are known for their animation, but I never expected a line at the door that so closely resembled the lines for the bands and the comedy shows.

Early in the afternoon I stopped in for a while at the T.I. mainstage show. He’s not one of my favorites, but he put on an energetic stage show that revved up the nearly filled Memorial Coliseum who were jumping, dancing and enthusiatically fist-pumping. It can be hard to create spectacle in the afternoon sun but T.I. delivered.

I dashed out after the first half to go see the second half of Kathleen Edwards whose set was an excellent representation of the best of the singer-songwriter genre. She has a great voice and a fun, folksy charm, amusing the audience with stories of writing songs about friends and making videos with infamous hockey players.

The “Crime and Punishment” program at SIFF was probably one of the better short programs I’ve seen at Bumbershoot, a great selection of crime-themed shorts that ranged from the suspenseful to the comic.

I wanted to go see The Black Keys but got distracted along the way by The Saturday Knights. I really don’t know how to describe their show other than to say that they were totally awesome and Samantha was right to plug them way before any of us heard of them. (She was right about The Girls, too, so maybe we should all start listening to her.)

Just a note for anyone who is attending Monday: please remember that you are not a door and should there not block any walkways. There are tons of people on site, all wanting to get from one place to another. Blocking them to talk on your cell phone, consult the schedule, argue with your boyfriend, dig for something for in your baby’s diaper bag, or just randomly stare into space is totally not cool.

Dispatch from Bumbershoot 3


the shackletons; photo by josh, courtesy icecreamman

the shackletons; photo by josh, courtesy icecreamman

As always, !!! last night wins the prize for dance parties that cross all divides between hippie and frat boy. They just keep adding members, and they get more and more fun, and I think that they would be excellent to party with. And Zooey Deschanel did not make a guest appearance at M. Ward, no matter how hard we all wished that she would.

It’s possible that every festival day–and possibly every other day too–should start out with a good dose of The Shackeltons. Mark Redding, the lead vocalist, was all over the stage, tossing shrubbery and falling down and talking a whole lot, inexplicably, about fish. He invited the audience to tell their darkest secrets, asked us all to imagine plucking a rose by the thorns, and somehow managed to not sound at all gimmicky through any of it. This is partly because the songs themselves are solid and interesting post-punk. They have no current plans to come back to town any time soon, but someone should endeavor to bring them back. I would sign that petition.

It’s lucky for my poor tired legs that there was a bit of a lull this afternoon, because by the time These Arms are Snakes came around I was ready to spend a little while trying to move quickly away from their thrashing fans. The last time I saw the band a few years ago I got kicked in the head when Steve Snere went pinballing off the stage and into the audience, so I knew enough to stay off to the side this time. This proved to be wise, since he went right into it and dove on to the crowd during the very first song. The sound in the Exhibition Hall is noticeably better this year, and even though my tolerance for hardcore gets lower and lower as the years go on I couldn’t leave until I had gotten at least a few songs in. (The best part about the sound in the Ex Hall not being awful is that I’ll finally get to see–and hear–the Weakerthans, here in a few minutes.)

It was a huge change to leave These Arms are Snakes and go to catch the end of Ravens & Chimes, from New York, in the EMP. I am always hesitant to like any band with a flute and a glockenspiel,
but their sweet indie pop was nice and soothing after the assault my eardrums had just received. The lead singer took a picture of the crowd for his mom at the end of the set, which is exactly the sort of the that never fails to charm me.

Bumbershoot update: visual arts, etc.

one pot, pre-dinner. photo by josh; bumberset [flickr]

I was looking forward to checking out the “One Pot in Residence” installation by Michael Hebberoy because it seemed like an interesting concept. Throughout the day Bumbershoot artist and members of the public are invited to join in preparation of a meal while film footage from other One Pot events around the world are screened on the walls. At the end of the day, people gather to share the meal and engage in discussion about the “Spirit of 68”. Unfortunately, the installation somehow manages to be both too structured and not structured enough. The theme, as expressed by Hebberoy, is a broad one and having people call for attention and stand up to present their contribution to the discussion makes it a little awkward for those who wander in out of curiosity and weren’t prepared in advance with their films, books and/or musical instruments.

“The Seattle-Tehran Poster Show” has some interesting poster art, if you’re into that sort of thing, and makes an interesting pairing with “Flatstock”.

“Drawing Jam” is a lot of fun – there are plenty of art supplies on hand as well as figure models, easels, and a comfortable environment for expressing yourself through various media. When I stopped in I saw people of all ages and all sorts of levels of ability really enjoying the chance to engage in making some art of their own.

“The Power of One” is very moving. Jackie Renn’s “Voices of Conscience”, Phil Borges’ “Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World” and Katharina Mouratidi’s “The Other Globalisation” all present powerful images of ordinary people transforming the world around them by sheer force of will are inspiring and beautiful. Nina Berman’s “Purple Hearts: Back from Iraq & Marine’s Wedding” with its photos and video of injured soldiers returned from Iraq makes a simple, eloquent anti-war statement.

Bumbershoot Mysteries: Revenge of the Recyclables

Bumbershoot 2008

This sculptural installation was a rare piece of art that changed for the better once the sun went down. Whether a commentary on our throwaway society or a brave new post-icecap response to igloo construction (it was too dark to read the explanation by the time this picture was taken), we just hope trace Aspartame isn’t fatal in residential installations.

Bumbershoot Mysteries: Sold-Out Comedy Shows

As Josh noted below, the comedy stages seemed to be selling-out right and left on Saturday. (Is ‘sell out’ is the right term for free sideshows with capacity problems?)

Bumbershoot 2008

Saturday’s near-perfect weather means we can’t blame precipitation or high heat for people seeking shelter indoors. Was the standup lineup just that much better this year?

Bumbershoot Mysteries: Hair Edition

Does anyone know if this is Beck’s natural hairstyle, or are the golden locks part and parcel of the fedora?


On an unrelated note, some of your correspondents were shocked at how poor the audio mixing was during Beck’s headliner show last night in Memorial Stadium. Particularly his first song, Loser, during which he was nearly inaudible, but even after that, the vocals never became as loud or distinct as you might hope. Was this just because we were off-axis stage right?

Other discussion topics from yesterday’s Main Stage: proper etiquette for discouraging shoulder-sitting view-blockers. Gum thrown in hair and well-aimed blinky frisbees were all on display last night as preventative techniques.

Bumbershoot Sunday, tip and trick

A couple of notes to those Seattle Center bound among us:
1. Sometime between last week and the schedule printing date, the TBA spot at Fisher Green was announced. It has been claimed by frequent surprise guests, the Saturday Knights. Make a note of it and bring your party face and dancing shoes.

2. In an effort to make the comedy stages less of a waiting game of frustration, Bumbershoot has instituted a pass system for the comedy stages. Stop by the tent (outside the NE corner of the Center House) to get a pass early. From the looks of yesterday, things sold out quickly.

New Orleans MB Blogging Through Hurricane Gustav

45 a.m. EDTby NOAA when the storm was a Category Five hurricane. Photo courtesy of Flickr user

Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug. 28, 2005, at 11:45 AM EDT by NOAA when the storm was a Category Five hurricane. Photo courtesy of Flickr user

Our friends in New Orleans are blogging while making preparations for Hurricane Gustav’s arrival. Metblogger Craig, a New Orleans restaurant owner and Katrina survivor, has chosen to weather the storm instead of abide by the mandatory evacuation order. From his latest dispatch:

We’ve had a series of customers today, most of which have announced they are also staying. They’re grateful there is SOMEplace open, even if they’re on their way out of town, since EVERYplace is closed. You know things are serious when both the Wal-Mart and the Discount Zone convenience store are closed. But we’re cheered a bit at the latest storm tracking report, which shows landfall of the center a little farther west than anticipated. Every mile west that landfall occurs puts us farther from the strongest winds.

I’ve talked with about everyone I need to talk to, informing them we’re staying. I finally turned my phone off last night to simply stop the calls and the texting and the explaining. We both slept very well, though we were up early to get things cranked up down here.

The city isn’t a ghost town. Traffic is more like early Christmas morning, with only occasional vehicles. We’ll park where we want to block the front doors tonight. But it’s apparently still a mess on the main highways getting out. Glad we’re not fighting that.

You’re doing a heckavu job, Craigie. (Really.)

You can follow Hurricane Gustav here. Best wishes to everyone down there — stay safe!

PAX 2008: Saturday

Gaming Squad, courtesy of Sparky

Lessons Learned at PAX 2008:

1. The lines are long. Really long. (Unless you’re trying to use the women’s restroom). Know what you want to do ahead of time, and don’t try to get into Gabe and Tycho’s Make-A-Strip Panel 10 minutes before it’s scheduled to start.
2. The Console Freeplay rooms aren’t nearly as cool as the PC Freeplay rooms (pictured above) and take about twice as long to get into.
3. Don’t skip the Omeganaut competition, because you might get to see Gabe, Tycho, Khoo and Kara from Penny Arcade playing Journey songs on Rock Band.
4. Make sure to get bacon salt, among all the other swag.
5. I really suck at video games, unlike certain other bloggers.
6. If you’re riding the bus home, get on at 3rd and Virginia, before all the Bumbershoot people flood in!
7. The sumo beanbag mats are the best idea anyone’s ever come up with for PAX.

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