Archive for October, 2011

will you lookit all this

So busy this week – updates may be ragged, sorry! Rehearsals, nwcMUSIC/Norwescon deadlines including some things I can’t wait to talk about, shows, prep for shows, other shit I still can’t talk about… there is too much. Here, enjoy some bullet points:

I may give polls a rest this week, mostly because I don’t have time to think up a good one. XD But today is Halloween, so you can still go pick your favourite horror film if you want.

Do you get door-to-door kids in your neighbourhood? We hardly get any trick-or-treaters at the Lair. It’s a weird holiday for me, because I don’t have the tradition, and I really don’t know what to do with it. I tried giving away death-rays one year, but working ones are spendy, and who wants broken toys? I’m a supervillain, not a jerk, and not the right kind of clever to come up with something like, say, Snarkkula’s brilliant tradition of gift-wrapped mayonnaise packets. So we have candy! And we even give some of it away.

Except the smarties. Those are ALL MINE!

wow this got long

It’s Friday! Friday very early in the morning, Cascadia time – really still Thursday night, socially, you know how that goes.

I have something I can’t talk about yet! But I can talk about November 5th. Doesn’t November 5th sound nice? I think it sounds nice. Maybe nice for a trip down to the south sound. Just, you know, for fun. That evening.

This should not be confused with the House Concert at Sidhehaven, which is on November 11th, and further south! Please RSVP there or here, and come and stuff – it’s my very first house concert! And I’ll have a new song.

I also have something else I can’t talk about too specifically, but I’m hoping to release as a new free/pay-what-you-like Cracksman Betty track! It’s a cover song. Of sorts.

See, I’d heard this song, and liked it, and when I was prepping for the Talk Like a Pirate Day show at Juanita Bay, I realised with a little tweaking it could be a really good modern pirate song! So I was trying to remember how the music went from memory and reconstruct it, and, um, I kind of… missed. By a LOT.

By which I mean I wrote new music, like y’do. Oops. XD

But I really like my version. o/ So I’ve got permissions request in to the original artist, and we’ll see! He’s not opposed in principle, but wanted to hear it, and he has an mp3 waiting for him. It’s still mostly his lyrics, so I really hope he signs on. The original music was traditional, so we’re good there.

Oh, mustn’t forget this:

What else? I found out that some people missed a bunch of the horror film polls entirely – like, didn’t see notice of them or anything! That kind of explains the low turnout. Are people seeing the final championship poll?

Or are people just not as into horror film as I thought, even this time of year? That’s kind of a shame, since all of these are really good in different ways, from Quatermass and the Pit‘s postwar British SF to what is for my money absolutely Carpenter’s best film Prince of Darkness, which has…

A lot of films use the warning/message-from-beyond shtick. Lots of them. That part of This Island Earth is the part that’s actually really effective, creepy, and weird. I love that first reel to death. (In the MST3K treatment, it’s almost entirely cut out – it’s too unironically good. You could mock it, but why? Best to cut it out.)

But in horror – for my money, no film plays that game better than Prince of Darkness. None. So much ambiguity, so much uncertainty, but at the same time, so much existential need to act. Fantastic.

And! Bride of Frankenstein. For my money, the best of the classic era. So luscious, so lovingly filmed, so weird. It’s like an art film, in the best senses – experimental, daring, a story of defiance with a cold heart of hardest stoic inevitability, wrapped in a tight little horror plot, bundled in some of the most beautiful visuals of the classic Universal horror set. What’s not to love?

I’ll leave you with this bit of WTFery, IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS from a box of labels I bought three days ago:

I had an HP IIIp – in 1994. And guys, even grandma’s not using that printer anymore. It’s not even like that’s generic print art; these are instructions specific to those printers. And to no other printers. Just those. Print cartridges for them haven’t even been available since 2007. Guys – let it go. Okay? XD

if you have a lyric

Hey, guys!

I want to make some little quote stickers as freebies at shows, snippets pulled out of songs for the merch table. Does that sound like a good idea? I know that SJ Tucker does that and people seem to like it.

I’ve drawn up a little list of bits I like, but if you have any snippets that you think would be cool on a sticker, let me know!

I was kind of surprised Quatermass and the Pit fared so well in last week’s poll. That’s kinda awesome. I like it too, so I’m happy. The Carpenter film you liked best turned out to be Prince of Darkness, and all I can say about that is that you guys have really good taste in Carpenter films – it’s totally my favourite. And since Battle Royale and Paranormal Activity tied for first, I’ll bring ’em both in, why not?

The rest are Universal Horror Classics. Well, most of them are. I’m going to cheat, and add one: White Zombie, 1932. I love that film. Yeah, it’s a bit slow, even for the era, and it’s kind of weird in that we’re-still-figuring-out-how-to-make-movies kind of way, but it’s moody like mood is going out of style, Bela Lugosi is in fine form, and, most of all, it has the single creepiest scene I have ever seen in any film to this day.

Creeps me out just thinking about it. No lie.

This is a pretty good set of films, really. If you wanted a viewing list for your Halloween pleasure – one that doesn’t include robots and Gizmonic Institute employees – you could do a lot worse.

Pick your favourite of this lucky 13:

[poll id=”18″]

who do you trust

Last Friday I mentioned that I was building a database of publications that review and talk about music, starting with a list of majors. Well, that’s sorted now: 263 magazines, newspapers, and similar, all categorised.

Sadly, few of these are actually interesting! Some are! A few are great! But most are old-school print dailies or the usual alternative-to-what-exactly weekly. And while those are good to have in the database, I’m looking for things a little more atypical.

I mean honestly, if you think the major dailies are out of touch on news, try music. The front page at the Kansas City Star this weekend? Roger Daltry, Paul McCartney, Kenny G., Boz Scaggs, Laurie Anderson, and a Pink Floyd cover band. HI GUYS, 1986 WAS 25 YEARS AGO I KNOW YOU HAVE A HARD TIME COPING WITH THAT BUT PLEASE TRY.

And sure, they aren’t all that bad, but it makes the point. The “alternative” weeklies are better, pretty consistently. But I need different. Those guys aren’t going to care about me, or people like me. I’m not Baby Boomer nostalgia and I’m not going to be selling Jagerbombs to Bros and the party crowd any time soon, if ever. I need something a little more niche, who isn’t trying to follow the usual Bar/Club/Club/Bar Circuit and is not interested in the Major Label Sucker System.

Do you have any pointers here? Any youtube channels, active blogs, websites, tumblrs, podcasts, whatever – someone that someone like me could send a download code or a CD and say, “j0, whadda think?” Because I want to find those people. I need to find people who aren’t sucking the last drips of marrow from the bones of a Rock Industry Culture that isn’t even aware that it’s dead.

Ask your friends. Comment if you or they have anything. I really want to know who you trust.

In other news:

The Sunday market show at Redmond went pretty well, particularly given the rain and muck. I earned professionalism points just for showing up – the main band cancelled! But the wind stayed down and while crowds weren’t heavy, the kids got into it, I had some nice conversations, I handed out a lot of cards, and told a lot of people about the history of the Irish Bouzouki! (Trinity College really needs to be paying me, f’srs. XD )

If you’re stopping by from there, hi! Next show is my very first house concert on November 11th, at Sidhehaven. There’s an evite here, and a Facebook event here. They’ve hosted a bunch of people of more note than me, and I’m really excited to have been picked up by them for my first announced house concert! These are small and cozy shows – I’m hoping for 6-12 people. If you’re in the south Olympia or Yelm area, come, and bring a friend!

Polls are still open on the horror film favourites – last week and the week before. We’ll pit those winners against the Universal classics of the 30s on Wednesday, so get your final votes in!

no reason, why?

repackaged and resold

Still trolling through music publications, building out that database. I talk about that in the previous entry, “alternative to what exactly.”

But I just found something else, too. One of the things lefties have absolutely correct is that capitalism will package and sell back to you your own culture. But first, they’ll be really bad at trying to hook into it, like so:

So annoying.

alternative to what exactly

I’ve been building out a big publications database. This is important to have and I’ve spent a lot of time not having one, and really, not even trying to have one – I sent review copies of Dick Tracy Must Die a couple of places I knew directly, and talked about it here, but I wasn’t trying to reach larger media on the whole.

But I do need this database, and more importantly, I need to survey all these publications. So when K said he could give me a list of publication titles I could research and fill out, I said sure! And got to work.

So many of these weekly “alternative” publications are so very much the same. It’s really dreary – it’s the same bar/club/club/bar/bar scene/club scene/party scene/bar/club/club/local-music-festival-that-adversises-with-us/club/bar/bar/club over and over and over again. (Thanks for that, Village Voice Media Group and your dozens of cloned “alternative weeklies.”)

Seriously, at this point, if I see this menu on a paper’s website?

…I can tell you with 98% confidence exactly what’s in it.

And every time I see that menu I wonder whether this is another actual indie they took over – several have been – or whether they moved in and drove an indie out of business. But I also suspect they’re some places an indie wouldn’t’ve been, and it’s better than nothing. Even the worst of them cover some local musicians, and that’s good. I just don’t know.

But every so often – once in a while – you still find something unique, and it’s just a joy. Like Cincinnati City Beat, which last weekend was headlining with J-Rock coverage. (To wit: なんだ?) Or the existence of a Montreal anglophone music and arts weekly, Hour Community. Or my favourite one-off so far, Asheville, North Carolina’s Mountain Xpress, which has coverage of buskers as a continuing feature.

Yeah, buskers. They go out, find a good busker, video them doing some song or other, and put it up on their website with name and location so you can find them yourself.

That’s awesome. And a hell of a lot more “alternative” than anything Voice Media Group might be handing their readers today. We ♥ you, little Mountain Xpress. Stay strong. You are doing it right.

Anyway. I have house concerts coming up! Two I’ve announced! Maybe more I can’t talk about yet ’cause they aren’t confirmed and may not even happen. But I hope they do!

Also, you can still participate in the movie polls if you want. And this weekend, I’ll be doing some instrumental market music Saturday morning in Redmond, at my last market gig of the year. I’ve been warming up the flute again and my embouchure is kinda sad but that may not stop me! I may use it. ph33r me. ph33r my phl4ppy l1p5. XD

So if you’re out there, c’mon by and say hi! And if not, have a good weekend. Got any plans? Share!

omg you guys house concerts!

This whole house concert tour thing is exciting! I have two confirmed dates to tell you about now, yay!

  • NOVEMBER 11th, 2011 (11/11/11): House concert at Sidhehaven. I’ve heard a lot about this place an I’m honoured they’ve decided to host me for my first announced house concert! They’re outside Yelm, about half an hour south of Tacoma, Washington by car. Doors open at 6pm; showtime’s at 7. RSVP on evite, and/or check in on Facebook – tho’ if you don’t and decide to come anyway that’s cool. But RSVP if you can! $5-10 suggested donation.
  • NOVEMBER 18, 2011: Peter Lovejoy is hosting me out on Bainbridge Island, at 8959 Battle Point Drive NE. I’ve never played anywhere out there before, so this is a first! Doors open 6pm, show starts 7pm, $7 Suggested Donation. There’s no RSVP page for this one but I’d love to know if you’re coming!

There may be some more news to come. I hope so, anyway! Thanks so much to Sidhehaven and to Peter for letting me come play for their friends – I’m so looking forward to it!

We Have Movie Sign!

Back to our horrorfest! There are three questions this time: your favourite Hammer Films horror classic, your favourite Carpenter film from his golden era (other than The Thing, already in polls earlier), and your favourite recent horror flick, from any source. We’ve seeded that poll with some of our faves.

As usual, if an answer you want isn’t in here, comment with the film you want, and I’ll add it!


[poll id=”15″]

[poll id=”16″]

[poll id=”17″]

Next week, we’ll put all of the winners of all five polls up against the original Universal classics and crown our EMPEROR OF HORROR! Let the creepiest thing win!

things about which i cannot yet talk

G’morning! There are a bunch of things I can’t talk about yet that I really want to. But I can’t. Some of them are pretty undefined and really not even definitely happening yet, some are definitely happening but there’s one more thing to sort out.

Not that you heard it from me, but relevant dates are probably in the vicinity of 29 October, 11 November, and 18 November. Probably.

But there are things I can talk about!

First, Steamcon says hi!

Not Hardly Everybody

I’ve never been before, so one-dayed it on Saturday. I… mostly don’t have the rhythm of this convention. I enjoyed the sensory immersion in retro cosplay, I even bought a few things in the dealer’s room – tho’ most of that was tea. And any fandom which supports a loose-leaf tea vendor has my approval.

But not being so heavily into steampunk cosplay – which seemed to be cosplay based on fashions anywhere between 1720s and the early 1930s, as far as I could tell, tho’ most of it was Victoriana – I felt rather at loose ends. Also, with a couple of exceptions, it seemed way more “steam” than “punk;” as Torrey mentioned, almost all of the costuming is ruling or merchant class, and there’s not much punk in that.

Which isn’t to say the standards weren’t very high – I have too many photos to post here, and didn’t take a fraction of the number I could’ve! But enjoy a few random photos:

A Sharky Constitutional

Putting the Punk Back in Steampunk

Sin By Me

Also, I do not know what era this was, but I would like to visit it

Attoparsec was there, showing off their new their latest invention, the hydrocrystalophone:

A New Musical Instrument

I also spotted a lovely hat which contained a gazing sphere showing an animation of a galloping horse, but sadly did not get a photo! I was hoping for more such gadgetry – that, I really enjoy – but if there, I largely missed it. That said, I do believe I spotted a spy:

Not Stealthy

I spent most of the evening at Second Stage, getting to enjoy shows by Toy-Box Trio, Fein and Dandee, Aeon Now!, and Curtis Eller. All put on good shows, but I was really impressed in particular by Aeon Now!, and if you get a chance to see them, you’d be insane not to take it. Complex lyrics, strong vocals, good arrangements, and the craziest drummer I’ve ever seen perform live means they blew the roof off of that place.

Shooting in the dark is difficult when you have dynamic performers, but I got a couple of decent shots:

Toy-Box Trio

Fein and Dandee, neo-Vaudvillian musicians

Aeon Now

I’ll post more photos to Flickr, later, after I have time to sort them properly.

In other news, Moog has released an iPad polysynth, and for the first month, they’re basically giving it away at 99¢. Demonstration video here; it goes up to $30 in a month. Grab it now if you’re interested!

That’s all I have for the moment. I’m really excited about things I can’t talk about. Frustrating! But in a good way. Keep watching for updates!

so what are we doing here

I didn’t really say in the first post; the idea with these horror film polls is that we’ve got two going now, two more next week, then the last week of October, we’ll take all the winners and put them up against the Universal classics to have our CHAMPION OF HORRORS! October is a pretty big horror film month around the Lair, and some of our favourites are going to be showing up in these polls, and I wonder how much of that will be shared.

So if you’re into these films, go clickie, and let’s see what comes out on top.

Apparently the Thing prequel isn’t getting much love in reviews – the Rotten Tomatoes score is a fairly sad 30%, even if the audience reaction is much better. I’m a little surprised by that, honestly; I’m particularly perplexed by one reviewer’s comment that it was dull. While it has its flaws, it wastes no time getting things moving and keeps up a pretty solid pace throughout.

I did want to talk about the film a little more, though, mostly about two topics.

First, there’s a fanon for the whole series – everything except the novella, really – that the Thing itself isn’t actually the alien that built the spaceship, but is what brought the spaceship down.

That ties in for me particularly strongly with this prequel, and I’m wondering whether that’s intentional. It’s always bothered me that the Thing is really kind of stupid – and it’s significantly worse in this version. I have an extension of the fanon that the Thing is not entirely intelligent; that it can use the intelligence of the beings it operates, but doesn’t really integrate that intelligence well into its own being. It’s sort of a puppeteer, rather than an integrator.

That works very well in this film, and well in Carpenter’s, and to a lesser degree, works in the novella. It fits less well with the 1951 vaguely carrot-monster-ish version, but, well, it’s a modern fanon.

not this carrot monster

For another take on that intelligence question entirely, however, you will certainly enjoy Peter Watts’ short story, The Things, which takes rather the opposite approach and is just a lovely piece of creepy, creepy work.

Secondly, and on the plus side, I’m really happy that we finally have an entry in this mythos that passes the Bechdel Test. Kate Lloyd is functionally the Ellen Ripley of this film, albeit one coming from a different emotional starting point. My take on this was that this is entirely intentional; and for me, it’s the most overdue update to the entire concept.

all out of bubblegum

Much of the rest, I touched upon already; reasonable characters, an interesting reshading and invocation of the original; I liked that a lot of the dialogue was in Norwegian, and wish it’d been a bit more than it was, but with three American characters and an American audience, that’s kind of unavoidable.

Keep an eye on the shows page, I have some show announcements coming up soon! A couple of dates are already pencilled in; one’s even in ink, but I’m waiting for a couple more pieces of mail before I get completely specific.

I’ve never done a house concert before! It’s new! and exciting! I’m still looking for opportunities to the north (Lower Mainland in particular), and Portland, which should tell you something about where my pencil marks are at this point. XD

Have a good weekend, everybody!

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