Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thanks, Anonymous!

After a previous post drew an angry response from an anonymous commenter, I was concerned to see that Anonymous had struck again, this time responding to a more recent post in which I expressed interest in intentional communities. This Anonymous, as it turns out, is a very different kind: the helpful kind. He or she pointed me towards the Sirius Community in Massachusetts, whose proper Web site I'm having trouble accessing sans Flash but whose page on Living Routes intrigues me. If anyone out there, anonymous or not, has anything to share about Sirius or any other intentional community, please come forth from the shadows!

On a more local note, here's what I hope to make for potluck tonight:

Actually, it'll be with green olives rather than cranberries, but you get the picture.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weezer + YouTube celebs = guilty-pleasure video of the week

Always one step ahead of the curve, those crazy bastards. And yes, Rivers Cuomo's new porn-star mustache scares me, too. You're not alone.

Two more bits of pop-culture flotsam:

1) Here's the best county-fair commercial I've ever seen:

2) Heard this mashup on C89 recently and loved it:

Superlangalang! - M.I.A. Vs. Super Mario Brothers

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Alan Ball at SIFF

There are few people I consistently refer to as heroes of mine, but American Beauty screenwriter and Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball is one of them. (Roger Ebert is another.) To my delight, I found out tonight that Mr. Ball will be attending both SIFF screenings of his new movie, Towelhead, which is based on the novel of the same name. Without much hesitation, I snapped up a few tickets.

The catch? The screening I'm attending happens June 14, when I was theoretically going to be in California. My June travel plans hadn't really snapped into place for me until tonight; now I think I'll spend a weekend or more in Portland between June 1 and the date of the screening, then drive down after the screening to Sacramento to visit my friend Emily Page, a former Weeklyite who now works at the Sacramento News & Review. I could also use part of June to prepare for my eventual exodus from Seattle, which should be happening later in the summer, after my Eurotrip.

In any case, the Alan Ball screening/appearance is a nice anchor for next month's planning. I think I'd regret missing an opportunity to see him in person, and having June even a little bit more figured out is kind of liberating. Not that unemployment has been particularly harsh so far. I'll make sure to blog about it when it bears down on me with all its guilt-inducing, monotonous force. But the first week hasn't been too bad.

Friday, May 23, 2008

One example of collective living

Something like this might be nice. Of course, the New York Times photographer makes it look idyllic. It's like an edgy cable sitcom crossed with Little Miss Sunshine, as far as that photo is concerned. And that doesn't sound too bad, honestly. Then again, there's always Together.

SIFF opens with a whimper

First, some good news: Michael's latest Idolator piece in which he exposes his family to the Billboard Top 10 is absolutely wonderful.

Now for the not-so-good news: This year's SIFF Opening Gala was easily the worst in my Seattle experience (my first opener was in 2003). The movie, Battle in Seattle, was expectedly bad: simplistic, melodramatic, manipulative to the point of being propagandist, and predictable to the point of being kind of boring (and stuffed with embarrassingly obvious speechifying, some of it righteous in content but all of it self-righteous in tone). The party, on the other hand, was bad in ways that weren't as expected: There was no free booze (not that I had any, free or not, but I was outraged on behalf of my peeps who did), the whole thing was not very well attended, the music on the dance floor was noticeably stale, the films-projected-on-the-walls choices were uninspired, the venue was kind of depressing (partly because it was the subterranean Exhibition Hall, partly because its size made apparent how few people were there), and the food was either in short supply and almost entirely meat-based (the savory stuff) or disgustingly overabundant (the cake, which admittedly was pretty good -- but isn't the thing you want in overabundance). The VIP folks in their gated party community got to indulge in sushi and other healthy goodies, while we plebes waited an eternity for soggy egg rolls and, again, more cake than any human should consume at a single event. In accordance with the movie's theme of rebellion against the capitalist overclass, I proposed that we link arms and chant "The people united will never be divided!" until they let us into the VIP area, but alas, no one else was willing.

One highlight of the event: Watching my movie-star crush, Michelle Rodriguez, answer Serious Questions ("Did your involvement in Battle in Seattle inspire you to change your lifestyle?") with a combination of vacuousness ("I drive a Prius now!") and quasi-maniacal laughter. On the other hand, if André Benjamin had been any more awesome, his awesomeness might have caused the space-time continuum to telescope and dissolve. It's always nice to see André. He was wearing a large-brimmed hat and a denim sport jacket, plus jeans with deep cuffs. He's my kind of movie star.

The film did include a bunch of Seattle locations, which was gratifying (Cinerama! The Paramount! Zeek's!), and one scene with Charlize Theron was actually quite intense, but overall the movie was ugly to look at and dramatically amateurish (the writing was more at fault than the acting, but then again the cinematography was pretty poor, too). Its Afterschool Special-style earnestness was sweet, though, and it did make me want to do something unequivocally good for the world, like go down to New Orleans and help rebuild the city.

I'm not counting SIFF out just yet, though. Either tomorrow or Sunday I hope to see The Fall, which Geoff tells me is visually sumptuous, as I'd hoped it would be. And while I'm enjoying the flexible hours and fringe benefits of unemployment, I might as well pan for a bit more movie gold. After all, once I'm on the road (or whatever it is I'm doing next), there'll be no more Egyptian, no more Harvard Exit, no more -- sigh -- SIFF Cinema. Gotta log the popcorn hours while I can.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

TV on the radio

A wonderful episode of This American Life, courtesy of Emily.

I played guitar and people watched

They even clapped! Today at Piecora's, Charlotte Thistle's guitar students, including yours truly, performed in front of an audience. The students ranged from wee to middle-aged; the audience consisted almost entirely of parents. The pizza and salad were excellent. Here's the gallery Reed put together. I played an instrumental version of "Falling Slowly," the Oscar-winning song from Once; Reed played "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod" by Mountain Goats, and its tale of an abusive father (that is what it's about, right?) provided an effective thematic counterpoint to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which followed.

In other news, I finally had the Berry Bar at Portage Bay Cafe this morning at brunch, and it was... a bit anticlimactic, but still good. My French toast ended up being dinner, too. My friend Jill and I spent part of brunch talking about the navel-gazing that blogging can lead to, and the ultimate descent into the mundane and frivolous -- here's what I ate for breakfast -- came up. So now, dear reader, you know what I had: French toast. Man. It's 9:25 p.m., but I'll still kind of hungry. Maybe I'll heat up a veggie dog.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It has benefits, just not the usual kind

Yep. I'll likely be heading down the West Coast in early June; in July, it's on to Europe; and eventually I'll say goodbye to Seattle. But you know what? For now my job is going to Madison Beach Park, as I did today, and soaking up some rays. I had a fantastic last day: a mellow six hours at work, root beer floats (organic root beer + Häagen-Dazs = awesomeness), a nice time at the beach with Sarah from work, and a festive last-day-of-work dinner at Cafe Lago with Alka. Oh, and also tea at 22 Doors with Alka and Matty, whose Dreamlets will be featured May 23 on NWsource.

Tomorrow it's off to the Seattle Cheese Festival with Reed, possibly preceded by coffee with Nichole. And Sunday is my guitar recital at Piecora's, and another edition of the writing workshop. And Monday... picnic lunch with Sarah DeWeerdt in Lake City! Very exciting. I'll hopefully also be finding some time to plan for the coming months' travels. And maybe looking into getting my car's tape player repaired?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dueling inscriptions

Bought a copy of The Movie That Changed My Life: Great Writers on Their Favorite Films at Horizon Books on 15th Avenue East, partly for the content -- Joyce Carol Oates on Dracula! -- and partly for the fantastic inscription and counter-inscription. On a page that's a bit shorter than the others, and thus seems to have been inserted, is the following, handwritten in red pen:


One might be a good bus book. The other, an interesting curiosity by one of our favorite authors.


P.S. Don't leave the rat poison lying about in the garage.

This alone might have merited buying the book for a paltry $7, but wait -- there's more. "D." wrote back with a vengeance -- in fact, he or she (I have some strange intuition that it's a she) typed a response below the handwritten note from "V." And here it is:

I couldn't get into this one either. Sorry. I guess I'm just not interested in the opinions of people I don't know on movies I haven't seen. I've only seen 2 or 3 of these. I started "Bambi" but couldn't get into it, and I browsed a couple of pages in others, but didn't get anywhere. Thanks anyway.

In more than a year and a half of living on 15th, I'd never wandered into Horizon, always waiting for some excuse. Today, the friend I'd had brunch with at 22 Doors wanted to venture in, so we did. And I think it's safe to say the back-and-forth inscriptions made my day, and possibly even my week. I also picked up a 1984 Roger Ebert book, A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, that I'd previously borrowed from Michael but really wanted to own. Among the gems it contains: an interview with Woody Allen in which he, Woody, explains why women are "closer to what life's supposed to be about" than men, and a piece wherein Ebert accompanies Muhammad Ali to a screening of Rocky 2, which the legendary boxer picks apart both thoughtfully and hilariously, as is his way. Though I still love Ebert's writing, it's nice to look back at his golden years and recall how on fire he was back then.

Saw Margaret Cho at the Paramount last night and enjoyed her performance -- amazing that she can talk about sex for what feels like more than half the show and always find new angles and new absurdities. Her bits about recent political scandals, including Eliot Spitzer and Larry Craig, were also great, as was a joke about Iran. I'd try to recreate some of the best moments here, but Cho is so much about inflection, body language, and facial expressions that it'd be pointless, and probably offensive. Her delivery is what lets her get away with as much as she does; in that way she's like Sarah Silverman, though Cho's humor is more consistent, albeit with fewer big laughs. (She gets a lot of smaller ones and misses less often than Silverman, who can be positively flat or absolutely incandescent within the same minute.)

Breezed by the "Roman Art from the Louvre" exhibit at SAM last night, which I realize is heresy, but it was after 12:30 a.m. and I was tired, and the statues just looked liked... statues. I also checked out Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream yesterday afternoon, and realized a few things:

1. Molly Moon's is as hip as Wallingford is ever going to get, outside Babalu
2. Cardamom ice cream is excellent
3. A little salted caramel ice cream goes a long way
4. Lemon is not to be passed over; despite its ordinariness, it's probably one of the best flavors
5. Owner Molly Moon Neitzel's dog, Parker Posey (who appears in the shop's logo, which I've posted above), is very cute
6. Kids with chocolate ice cream smeared all over their faces are always entertaining
7. Wallingford -- the neighborhood I lived in when I first moved to Seattle, way back in January of 2002 -- can be pretty wonderful

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'd love to see their take on SuperPoke

And here's the song I can't get out of my head this week:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I can haz 1995 Subaru Impreza

I am finally a car owner. My very own auto is named Gracie -- the name just popped up when I was e-mailing my mom. It came out while I was typing, and I'm in no position to question the genius of my subconscious, though I did have a talk last night with a friend who reminded me that naming inanimate objects after women is kind of sexist. Still, my car is definitely Gracie. Her color would be described politely as blue-green and less politely as "what color is your car exactly?" She has 130,000 miles on her, yet she runs more or less like a dream. She was recently cleaned and un-dented. I'm so, so pleased to have her. I really can't even describe how pleased. Now I can explore West Seattle without having to take three separate buses, and Ballard without a 90-minute transit ordeal. Now, moreover, I can visit my friends in Lake City and Lake Forest Park who never quite make it to Seattle anymore. And I can drop by a Wallingford friend's house on the spur of the moment. This, friends, is what life was meant to be. No more taxis. No more Zipcars. No. More. Buses. (Except on the way to work, for another two weeks.) I'll have photos for you soon -- kind of like baby photos, when you have a new baby, or puppy photos, when you have a new puppy.


In other news, I had an amazing dinner at Elemental the other night with Angela. The flavors and textures of the meal were some of the best I've had in years. We had artichoke soup, a salad of dandelion greens and goat cheese, grilled asparagus with a poached duck egg, green chile cheesecake, ravioli filled with ricotta and green peas in a sauce that included mint, a fantastic cheese board, and a dessert sampler that included ice cream, little doughnuts, chocolate mousse, and a lemon-ginger pound cake with whipped cream. This is my new favorite Seattle restaurant, no question. I intend to get back there at least once more before I leave town. Maybe for my farewell dinner...

Finally, you may have heard that my alma mater changed its motto -- well, its marketing motto, at least. (The official motto is still "Learning and Labor," though you can expect an outside consultant to come in and mess with it any minute now.) This student film purports to uncover the dark truth behind the new direction, but if you really want some insight into Oberlin life and culture from an outside source, check out Lewis Black's visit, which occurred in the spring of 2001. I was still on campus, and I totally recognize some of the people in the video. I love that Black doesn't directly mock the square dancing at Hales Gym, he just stands in the foreground and lets it mock itself. Though of course it actually seems kind of sweet, especially in comparison to the harsher ridiculousness of the "real world." I miss the bubble sometimes.