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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Washington D.C. Photos

Hopefully I'll have some time soon to put up a post about all of the things we got to do and see while we were in Washington D.C. In the meantime, I've posted a whole set of photos from the trip to my Flickr site. If you're too lazy to head over there to check 'em out, here are three of my favorites:

The Capitol Building before a storm

The Lincoln Memorial at sunset

At The Lincoln Memorial

Monday, June 20, 2005

Washington D.C. Bound

I'm going to be heading to Washington D.C. for a few days, so it'll be a bit before my next post. I've never been to D.C. before, so if you have any touristy suggestions I'm all ears.

One thing I'm excited about is that I've got tickets to see the Washington Nationals play the Toronto Blue Jays at RFK Stadium. How many times do you get to see a team during it's first year? It'll be the 8th park I've seen a Major League game in.

MLB Ball Parks Where I've Watched Games (in chronological order)
  1. The Astrodome - Houston, TX
  2. Tropicana Field - Tampa, FL
  3. The Kingdome - Seattle, WA
  4. Wrigley Field - Chicago, IL
  5. Safeco Field - Seattle, WA
  6. Pac Bell Park - San Francisco, CA
  7. Fenway Park - Boston, MA
  8. RFK Stadium - Washington, DC

More Solstice Photos

By popular demand, here are a few more photos from Saturday's parade:


Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Pirates


Marionette


I think these guys were anti-cops beating up disabled dudes who smoke.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Solstice Parade Pictures

This weekend we went to the Fremont Solstice Parade. Here are a few of the photos I took. You can find lots other people pics on Flickr.


En Garde


Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot


Art Car

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Rain Queen Dies

This week brings us the sad news that the Rain Queen Makobo Modjadji VI has passed away at the age of 27.


I belong in the service of the queen...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Jetta Parade

On my way to work yesterday I noticed that I was the 4th Jetta in a 5 car Jetta parade. Jetta Parade is the new motorcyle gang! Soccer moms and software engineers of the world unite!



Hardcore like Quick Draw McGraw

Thursday, June 16, 2005

FSU Quarterbacks Gone Wild

I've always said you'd have to be crazy to go to Florida State. Now there's proof.

My favorite part of the article:

"Police said Sexton's roommates told them he had been at a Dave Matthews Band concert in Tennessee with them earlier Monday."

Oh! A Dave Matthews concert. Well now it all makes sense.


Not Actually God

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Haunted

Book #27 of 2005 was Chuck Palahniuk's new novel Haunted.

Haunted is a horror story structured as a collection of poems and 23 short stories, with narrative chapters interspersed throughout to keep the story moving. The plot revolves around a group of writers who answer a vague ad about a writer's retreat. At the retreat they hope to abandon the pressures of their everyday lives for three months and settle down to write their masterpieces. When they arrive at the retreat, they find themselves locked into an empty old theater and isolated from the outside world. Unhappy with the situation and feeling deceived, the writers begin to turn on one another and blame the retreat organizer/host for kidnapping them. In hopes of garnering more sympathy when they are rescued from the 'kidnapping', the writers begin to sabotage the situation by doing things like destroying their food supply, breaking the building's heating system, and inflicting torture on one another.

The more desperate the circumstances become, the more devious their schemes to worsen the situation become. Each character fantasizes about the way they will be portrayed in the Hollywood version of the story, jockeying with one another in an attempt to ensure that they will be the star by virtue of their suffering.

Palahniuk has always had a reputation as a shock novelist, but in the previous books that I've read I always felt that his style has added to the overall story. Fight Club was awesome because it was shocking and different. Haunted on the other hand feels like a novel completely structured around the idea of providing as many gross moments as possible. Some of the short stories are interesting as individual pieces, but in reading the whole novel it seemed like the narritive was mostly just a plot device to get from one gross story to another.

If you're already a big fan of Chuck's work you might still find this one enjoyable, though I would rate it at the bottom of the list of his books that I've read. If you're looking for a good starting point for Chuck, I'd definitely skip this one and go for Fight Club, Lullaby or Choke instead.
"Even the cannibalism is kind of boring" - Elizabeth Hand in Washington Post review

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Nick Hornby at the Neptune Theater

Tonight we saw Nick Hornby read from A Long Way Down, his new novel about four downtrodden strangers who by chance end up meeting on the roof of a London building that they each independently intend on jumping from. While it sounds like the recipe for a real downer, the parts Hornby read were actually quite funny. Hornby has a real knack for dialog which came through real well in person. Based on the little we saw tonight, and the reviews the book has been receiving so far, it definitely looks like a good one to check out.

The movie rights for the book have already been purchased by Warner Brothers, so this will join Fever Pitch, About a Boy, and High Fidelity as Hornby books adapted for the big screen. The film will be produced by Graham King, David Heyman and Johnny Depp. According to Hornby, the process is already underway to get the book adapted into a screenplay.
"This book is brimming with some of the finest writing, and some of the most outstanding characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading." -- Johnny Depp

Monday, June 13, 2005

Triumph Visits the Jackson Trial

In honor of today's Michael Jackson verdict, here's a video of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog interviewing people outside of the courthouse. Safe for late night TV, but maybe not safe for work (unless you've got a cool job).

Odd News

I loves me some Yahoo's Odd News! To give you an idea of the kinds of top notch stories they post every day, here's just a few of today's wonderful headlines:

Awesome! The stories are also available as an RSS feed. Take that Google!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Last Weekend of SIFF

Today was the last day of the Seattle International Film festival. Earlier this morning winners were announced for the festival's jury prizes and audience awards (dubbed the Golden Space Needle). The only film we saw which won an award this year was Mad Hot Ballroom which received 3rd runner-up in the Best Documentary category.

Over the weekend we saw three more of the 348 films being presented as part of this year's festival:

  • Drive Well, Sleep Carefully - On the Road with Death Cab For Cutie - SIFF was the world premiere for this concert film about the workaholic band Death Cab For Cutie, the group who 'puts the punk in punctual'. The film follows the band as they tour in support of their album Transatlanticism.

    I'd estimate that the film is about 80% concert footage and 20% interviews with the band. The live footage is well shot with excellent sound, but I found the interviews to be the most compelling part of the film. Ben Gibbard, Chris Walla and company have a lot of interesting things to say about the trials of touring and the state of the music industry, although director Justin Mitchell provides them with precious little time to dig deeper into these thoughts. Mitchell's real goal here seems to be to spend as much time as possible showing the band on stage playing their songs, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're a DCFC fan then this should make an excellent DVD record of what it's like to see the band live, but I would've like to have seen Mitchell use this documentary as a chance to dig deeper into some of the issues surrounding the band such as their sudden change in fan base due to the O.C. and their recent decision to move to a major record label. The film touches on these topics briefly, but quickly glosses over them to get back to more live footage.

    I do have to give special props to Mitchell for working in a live version of the song 'Why You'd Want To Live Here' shot in L.A's Wiltern Theatre. The song is an anti-L.A. rant featuring lyrics such as 'You can't swim in a town this shallow' and and 'I can't see why you'd want to live here'. It was quite amusing to see the L.A. crowd rocking out to the song and to see Gibbard end the song by saying that he hoped no one took it personally.
  • Dreamship Surprise - Period One - A campy German spoof on Star Wars, Star Trek, The Fifth Element, The Matrix and many other sci-fi films, this film features three gay male stars, Captain Kork, engineer Shrotty and first officer Mr. Spuck, who man the Dreamship Surprise. In order to save the world they have to travel back in time to stop a UFO from landing in Roswell, New Mexico. I was expecting this one to be a little gimmicky, but it was surprisingly well done. The script manages to remain funny throughout the film, and even the special effects are impressive. Definitely worth seeing if you get a chance.
  • Lonesome Jim- Directed by Steve Buscemi, and starring Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler, Lonesome Jim plays like a more depressing, less stylistic version of Garden State. Affleck plays Jim, a chronically depressed 28-year old who returns to live with his parents in Indiana after failing to find his way in New York City. The highlights of the film are the scenes featuring a girls basketball team, coached by Jim's brother Tim, which has yet to score a point all season and Jim's uncle, a drug-dealer who prefers to go by the name of Evil. If you like Buscemi's first film, Trees Lounge, then you may want to give this one a try.

Of the 11 films we saw at the festival this year, here's how I would stack them in order of my favorite to least favorite.

  1. Rock School
  2. Be Here To Love Me
  3. Mad Hot Ballroom
  4. Dreamship Surprise
  5. Pucker Up
  6. Lonesome Jim
  7. Punk: Attitude
  8. Drive Well, Sleep Carefully
  9. Amazing Grace
  10. The Debt
  11. Kings of the Sky

June CD Spree

Yesterday we went to Sonic Boom for the first time in a quite awhile. Temptations abounded, but I was able to limit myself to picking up the following:
  • The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan - Seems like everyone's been hatin' on the Stripes lately, especially since Jack got hitched to a model, but from what I've heard so far I'm liking the new album. The sound is much different from their previous work, relying more on folk and country music influences rather than the straight blues sound they've leaned on heavily in the past.
  • Gorillaz - Demon Days - 'Feel Good Inc.' is the summer jam. If it doesn't make you get up and dance like Beavis and Butthead you've got no soul.
  • Quasimoto - The Further Adventures of Lord Quas - New one from Madlib's alter-ego. Features MF Doom on the track "Closer".
  • Common - Be - Haven't had a chance to listen to this one yet, but the consensus seem to be that this album is return to form and that would definitely be a good thing.

In addition to my new Boom acquistions, I also received the following in the mail:

  • Believer Compilation - Indie bands covering other indie bands on a compilation for one of the best literary mags going = Goodness.
  • Jay-Z - The Black Album - Jay-Z's got 99 problems but this Amazon review by 'a music fan' ain't one:

    "This guy is totally coppying off of metallica.Oh yeah and the only reason jay z was a rap star was because he wasnt good enough to be a rock star.i havent herad the album but i had to note he was coppying because it doesnt seem any1 else noticed. listen to metallica, ozzy, greenday, acdc, ect.The only reason sh** like this is popular is because none of the fans of rap had heard a rock song ." - a music fan

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Boondocks - Public Enemy #2

I just finished reading through the newly published Boondocks collection, Public Enemy #2 and it was excellent as always. Political subversiveness at its finest. If you're too cheap to buy the book and too lazy to find the library, you can always check out the latest Boondocks strips on uComics.

Also keep an eye out for the Boondocks TV show which is in the works and is currently set to air in October on Adult Swim. Adult Swim, why must you be so cool?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way

My dad has been sending out great stories over the past couple of months retelling memories from his childhood and things he's discovered while doing genealogy research. About a week ago he sent me this tid-bit about country music legend Hank Williams and my Grandpa.

"This is a story about something that I remember Daddy telling me about when I was young. Daddy would always say that he could remember when Hank Williams would come home! He said you could see the dust fly from Hank's car as he sped fast down the old dirt roads of Walton County.

In the late 1940 to early 1950's, Hank Williams would come to visit friends in Gaskin, Florida. He would stop from time to time to visit with Bud and Nancy Jane Collingsworth, whose farm was located directly behind your great-Grandpa's farm. The Collingworth land joined our family's land and they grew to be good neighbors and friends who would often attend church together.

Gaskin, Florida is such a small town that nothing would go unnoticed. You could bet if the word got out that Hank Williams was coming to visit the Collingsworth's Farm, everyone knew about it! If he showed up unannounced, the word would pass from farm to farm and the secret would be leaked quickly. Hank Williams had already made his name known in just about every household in America and certainly throughout the Southern states. He was singing on most radios in every household in the South. He was Southern born and Southern raised and he could relate to the small farmers that had to fight to make a living for their families. He was also on the Grand Ole Opry which most Southern families grew up listening to on the radio on Saturday nights.

When Hank was home, most people in the area would go to the Collingsworth's farm to listen to him. Of course, these concerts were never recorded and no one has any record of the music he played. The songs he played varied depending upon what people were in the mood to hear. Being hard working Christian folks, the music of choice was often what we'd consider today to be gospel music.

Hank must have felt at home in Walton, County, because he made many trips back. This was where I'm sure that Daddy had gotten to see Hank play his music, or at least where he watched him as he flew down the dirt roads of Walton, County.

Mama also told me an interesting story of another family in town that Hank would visit. They were Mama and Papa Neil McCormick. The McCormicks loved to sing and play gospel music and often played in the churches around Walton Country. Mama said that the McCormicks would play gospel music with Hank and that they had even appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. By the early 1950's everyone in Walton County had heard of Mama and Papa Neil McCormick.

Although, I could not find much about their appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, I did find some evidence that supports the fact that the McCormicks were indeed friends of Hank. When Papa Neil McCormick ran for Sheriff of Walton County, Hank Williams did two radio spots in DeFuniak Springs for his friend. I don't know if Neil ever became Sheriff or not, but from what I have read he was an interesting character. He was a Creek Indian just like Grandma Campbell and eventually became the Chief of the Lower Creek Indian Nation. He was eighty eight when he died in 1998. I would have liked to have talked to this man as I'm sure he had a lot of interesting stories to tell.

I do not know if Hank's wife Audrey ever traveled with him to Walton County during his visits. I do know that she had maintained ties within Walton County for several years after Hank's death. I base this on the fact that I remember hearing about an incident that she was involved with, back when Uncle Sam Campbell was Sheriff of Walton County. But in this incident, it did not matter to Uncle Sam who she was or who she knew! But that's another story that I will have to tell you about later! "

I believe the story my Dad is referring to in the last paragraph is about an accident Audrey had while driving drunk. Perhaps we'll get the rest of that story some time soon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

MLB Draft Day 1

Today was the first day of the 2005 MLB Draft. The baseball draft doesn't get nearly the media coverage of the NFL and NBA drafts, as most players selected won't have any impact on Major League teams for at least 2 to 3 years. Top that off with the fact that many of the players are unknown and don't ever sign with the team that drafted them and it's tough to drum up much interest.

Today's Seattle P-I included some interesting numbers that really help to put the draft in perspective. In the 28 drafts since the Mariners inception in 1977, they have selected 1,336 players. Of those players, 157 (11.7%) have made the big leagues, 111 (8.4%) of those were still with the Mariners when they made it, and only 9 players (0.67%) went on to become All-Stars in Seattle. The Mariners may not be the best sample to look at, but I would guess that most teams look fairly similar. Yowch.

With that in mind, here's the info on my new favorite players. The Mariners used their first pick, the third pick overall to select Jeff Clement, a catcher from USC (at least I hope we got the catcher and not this guy). After selecting Clement, the M's turned their focus to pitching taking five pitchers in a row. "Information" on all of the M's picks can be found here.
"I am not gifted with Ichiro's speed" -- Jeff Clement


Best Catcher Ever!

The Gators had two players selected: Jeff Corsaletti (Red Sox) and Alan Horne (Yankees...Boo!). The Gators also had four of their high school signees selected, so they'll have to sit tight and see if those guys decide to forego college and go straight to the minors. Stay in school boys, stay in school.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Putnam County Spelling Bee

One of this year's Tony Award winners is a musical called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Pretty funny since I'm pretty sure I competed in the Putnam County Spelling Bee at some point back in my Florida school days. Unfortunately, as cool as it would be if the musical were actually about spelling in my home town, it looks the two are completely unrelated (the musical and my home town, not my home town and spelling, although now that you point it out...). Drat, so much for my chances to be on Broadway.

The Winter of Our Discontent

The Winter of Our Discontent was book #26 and John Steinbeck book #2 and on my 2005 50 book challenge. Published in 1961, this was Steinbeck's last major novel. The book originally received luke warm reviews from the press, but despite the initial poor reviews it was chosen for a Noble Prize for Literature in 1962.

The novel tells the story of Ethan Allen Hawley, a Harvard educated descendent of New England shipping captains. Hawley has lost his family's fortune during the Great Depression and is now working hard to support his family as a small town grocery clerk. Hawley is an honest man who seems content with his lot in life, but the people around him convince him that his high morals are holding him back and that if he were just more ambitious he could regain the wealth that he deserves. As he attempts to regain his lost legacy, Hawley is led down a path of morale destruction which eventually leads him to plot a potential bank robbery, betray his best friend, and turn his mentor/boss over to the INS.

Of the Steinbeck books I've read, this was probably my least favorite. The story is interesting and Steinbeck always does a great job with characters, but at times I found the plot wondered a bit. Overall it's still an enjoyable read, but I would recommend Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, or Cannery Row as better starting points.

Irony Alert! While browsing around, I found a site which offers 'free' essays about the book. It cracked me up since in one of the side plots in Steinbeck's story Ethan's son Allen enters an essay contest and gets caught for plagiarism. I'd love to be a teacher and catch some unsuspecting cheater who tried to pass one of these 'free' essays off as their book report :-)

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

1,000 Hits for Beltre

Today we saw Adrian Beltre get the 1,000th hit of his MLB career sparking a 9th inning rally to push the M's past the Devil Rays 6-5. Much to his surprise, Beltre received a standing ovation from the Safeco fans after accomplishing the feat.

"When the fans started cheering, I was wondering if they knew it had been a couple of weeks since I'd had two hits in a game. I knew, but I didn't know if they did. I had no idea it was my 1,000th." - Adrian Beltre

You know a guy's having a tough year when he assumes that a standing ovation is just the fans being sarcastic about the fact that he finally managed to string together a couple of hits.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Debt and Amazing Grace

Today we saw two more films at the Seattle International Film Festival.

The first film was The Debt, a documentary from Argentinean journalist/film maker Jorge Lanata. The Debt starts with TV news footage of a crying, young girl named Barbara. A few years ago the footage set off a media blitz in the country, making Barbara the poster child for malnourishment in a nation with over 4 million underfed children.

Moved by the footage, Lanata starts off of on a quest to document how a nation so rich in natural resources can fail to feed its own kids. Lanata's inquiries lead him to examine the country's $180 billion dollar debt to creditors such as the World Bank. Lanata examines where the debt came from and how Argentina managed to amass such a debt while obtaining few noticeable improvements in the country's infrastructure. Lanata questions the ethics of Argentina's creditors asking how they could justify continuing to allow the country to borrow money beyond its means.

The film doesn't just point the finger at external causes for the county's problems though. As the film's producer (who was in attendance) put it, there are no 'good' or 'bad' guys in this story though we might like to think of things that way to make them easier to understand. Lanata drives home the point that Argentina needs to focus inwardly and figure out how to identify and correct its own problems if it's ever going to be able to remedy the situation. In an honest but depressing conclusion, Lanata laments that the situation in Argentina right now is complicated and is not something that can easily be summed up or fixed in the course of a film.

The second film was Amazing Grace, a documentary about singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, who died at the age of 30 in a tragic drowning accident . The film features some excellent live concert footage as well as interviews with Buckley, who turns out to be delightfully thoughtful. The film includes interviews with Rolling Stone writer David Fricke, Sebastian Bach, Chris Cornell, Duncan Shiek, members of Jeff Buckley's band and many others. Though the footage of Buckley and his amazing voice alone probably make the film worth seeing, it's not without its flaws. With Buckley's current icon status it can be difficult to get a good perspective on his work, but at times the film comes across as overly sycophantic. If you're a huge fan already you probably won't even notice, but as a casual fan parts felt a bit too hero-worshipy for me.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt

Tonight at SIFF we saw Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt. The film features lots of great footage of Townes, or as Steve Earle calls him 'the world's greatest song-writer', from interviews, home movies, concerts, TV appearances, etc. The footage is supplemented by interviews with Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Ely, Townes' family members and many others. Margaret Brown's director's statement is a good place to start to get a flavor for what kind of film she set out to make and how it differs from your typical music documentary. In my opinion she did an excellent job of delivering on her vision. The film was well executed, especially considering this is Brown's directorial debut, and seems very true to Townes' work and style. If your a fan of his music, or just a music fan then you'll probably enjoy this documentary.

Brown was present at the screening and said that she expects the film to be widely released in December. Expect to see a DVD with extra footage a couple of months after the film leaves theaters.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Open Letter to Mariners Fans and Announcers

Dear Mariners Fans and Announcers,

I regret to inform you that despite all of your insistence to the contrary Pat Borders is actually not good. As much as I enjoy all of the incessant blathering on about how amazing it is that Borders is 42 years old and can still swing a baseball bat all by himself, the reality remains that he is old, slow, and can't hit anymore (in fact other than that brief shining moment in the '92 World Series he was never very good). While I am impressed by everyone's ability to overlook these trivial faults and focus on the positives, I'd appreciate if we could maybe tone down the Pat Borders for MVP accolades just a notch (and please don't use this as an excuse to jump back on the Willie Bleepin' Bloomquist for MVP bandwagon). For instance, if Gil Meche works 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball perhaps we can talk about how well Meche pitched instead of the great game that Borders called. Just a thought.

Production By Mariners' Catcher Since 2004

NameGamesAVGSLG %OBPCS%CERA
Dan Wilson113.246.301.298.3424.75
Miguel Olivo87.209.348.218.2734.55
Pat Borders25.208.333.240.4124.38
Wiki Gonzalez4.375.625.3751.0005.73


Not My MVP

Yours truly,

The Rain King

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