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EW! A Blog.

September 7, 2008 10:30 PM

So I got a little behind. Forgive me. Let me shift into present tense so I can pretend I'm not writing two days late.

Friday! Friday is a day for sleeping in and enduring unsuccessful shopping trips. However, it's also a day for lucking out, and for arriving at venues in time to walk right in (for the most part). I turn up at the Wonder Ballroom at about 5:15 for Britt Daniel's 5:30 set and there isn't even a slip of a line. However, there is — in what becomes the theme for the evening, and for the Wonder — a line for the bar. A line in which I stand, briefly, before Daniel goes on and I realize it was a stupid idea anyway.

I have a confession: I only really love one Spoon album. Just Girls Can Tell. And thus, once Daniel closes the goosebump-raising "Me and the Bean" I think I'd be happy to leave were I not holding out hope that he might also play "Anything You Want." He does play another Girls song, and some other songs I recognize, as well as one song on the bass and several with the nearly ubiquitous Janet Weiss, who plays with everyone and is so awesome her frequent appearances are never less than delightful.

Daniel is charming and sort of adorable in his tousled-bedhead way; he says he's been living in Portland for three years and it's still magical. I'm pretty sure he actually says "magical." It's sweet. The short is set and also sweet, and involves a song for which Daniel has to stop his drum machine, practice the chords and start again. I don't know why I find musician fuckups so charming.

Outside, I find Chuck and his friend, grumpy about the no-magical-press-pass access at the Wonder. The line for Built to Spill is long, and I don't envy those who get in the realization that they most likely won't be able to get a beer. BtS is beer music. I'm leaving 'cause I've got to get dinner, but also because I'm still bitter that they're playing Perfect From Now On rather than the clearly superior Keep It Like a Secret. I was in denial about this for so long that I convinced myself it was the latter album. Whoops.

After dinner, we head to the Towne Lounge for the Old Believers, whom I wrote about in July when they played Cozmic Pizza. That night, we missed most of the band's set because they went on long before we'd expected them to; tonight, we catch most of it, and it's fantastic and nostalgic and lovely and graceful as expected. There are other folks onstage with the core Believer duo; later I found out these other folks were Eskimo and Sons, but that's a post for Saturday's eventual blog. There is a sizable Willamette Week contingent at the Old Believers show, which leads me to some internal speculation about music for alt-weekly staffers that goes absolutely nowhere. Also, the Towne Lounge sells 24-ounce cans of Pabst. I should be immune to this sort of gimmick now, but despite my dislike for the gut-twisting cheap brew, I consider it. Briefly. The bar is a little bit dinky and a little bit dingy in just the right way and I think I would like to see more bands in its dark environs, often.

As the Old Believers come to a hand-clapping, crowd-pleasing end, we split for the Roseland and arrive just in time to get in another bar line. We stay in this one, though; I text with Chuck about Portland's best bands and the fact that the Crystal Ballroom, where he's seeing the over-hyped Vampire Weekend, has an actual press space. Crazy. Jaguar Love takes the stage and I immediately have a shit-eating grin on my face, because I love these guys. I love their batshit craziness, stupid white pants and singer Johnny Whitney's tendency to scream EVERYTHING at incomprehensible levels. (Check out WWeek's Musicfest diaries for an accurate and entertaining take on the band.) I love that they make catchy music that veers from almost power ballads to almost-Michael Jackson pop, but coat it all in a layer of noise and ridiculousness. I love that some of them used to be in two other awesome bands.

The bad thing about Jaguar Love is that most of Portland is standing still and staring blankly at the stage. I posit the theory that some of them are convinced this is a test of their TV on the Radio loyalties. Eventually, we make it upstairs and obtain beer from the fastest bartender on the planet. My friend Toby sends a text from Brooklyn that ends, "FUCK THIS SHIT I AM MOVING TO PORTLAND," which, well, hey, at the moment, I'm pretty in love with PDX myself, even if its denizens seem to dance even less than Eugeneans. As the show winds down, Whitney screams, "JAGUAR LOVE! JAGUAR LOVE! JAGUAR LOVE!" over and over again, and we can't contain the laughter. A bearded dude in a baseball hat one row up catches my boyfriend's eye and high-fives him. I wonder if he's laughing with the band, like me, or at them.

Musicfest runs like clockwork, so it's almost weird that TV on the Radio goes on a few minutes late. Downstairs, no one is dancing, which makes me cranky even though I'm sitting on my ass with a pint of porter. Eventually, I make my way back downstairs, stuff tissue in my ears, and slip through the crowd to near the front, where I find myself stuck behind a very tall blonde who keeps punching the air. I'm not sure this is the most ... understandable? response to TVOTR, but whatevs; at least she's into it.

Photo by Dominik Kolendo.

But it's not their best show, to be honest. It's the fourth or fifth time I've seen them, and something just seems a little less vibrant than usual — though at least part of that could be chalked up to the fact that the crowd is waiting for the band's new album rather than excited about hearing new songs they've come to love already. But singer Tunde Adebimpe (full disclosure: I knew Tunde in college) has enough personality to carry any TVOTR show through, and there's something sweetly (that word again!) appealing to his demeanor as he thanks the crowd; it's in such contrast to his constantly-in-motion, shimmying, magnificent and oratorial presence during the band's songs. If memory serves, the main part of the set ends without "Staring at the Sun," so of course they're going to do an encore. Of course. And it's — to borrow a word from Britt Daniel — damn near magical.

Everyone is going to Berbati's after this, so we decide to follow along just to see what all the fuss is about. When we get there, we finally get to use the magical part of the magic bulldozer passes and waltz right in, only to realize we don't want to be there. There's a stomping party vibe that doesn't sit right after the epic density of TVOTR. I stand in the bathroom line, sweating, and get a text from Chuck: "Donuts sound better than this band." Voodoo Doughnuts is down the block, and it's a tossup whether there's a longer line for sugar-coated treats or The Builders and the Butchers. We pass on both and call it a night. One more to go!

September 5, 2008 01:51 PM

Honestly? I didn't think my first night at MusicfestNW would involve staying out until after one in the morning, allowing my ears to be totally fucking battered, but lo, it did, and it was a little bit awesome. I did stay at Holocene all night, true, but I knew Calendar Editor Chuck Adams was out and about — I'm sure he'll check in later about Battles and M. Ward — and, well, see, it's more fun to have someone to talk shit with at shows, and the only other person I knew who'd be out last night was at Holocene. So at Holocene I stayed (after a brief and unsatisfying trip to the super-speshul VIP tent outside the Wonder Ballroom, where the cocktails, though they don't deserve the name, were all made with Vitamin Water. I ditched mine — nasty! — and grabbed two tiny bottles of the stuff for later. I'm a sucker).

The Holocene lineup looked like this:

8 pm: Silver Summit
9 pm: Oxford Collapse
10 pm: Bodies of Water
11 pm: Starfucker
Midnight: Deerhunter

Silver Summit kind of went in one ear and out the other. Pretty enough, but not enough to grab my attention; I bought an old-fashioned (they make really good ones at Holocene) and snagged a little table, and spent most of their set making doodles in my MFNW schedule.

I just saw Oxford Collapse at Holocene a few months ago (with my new favorite band, Frightened Rabbit), and while I tend to avoid writing much about them (the aforementioned Only Person I Knew at being in the band and all), this show, I've gotta say, was a notch or two up from the last. And that one was good, too; this one was just better, and not only because singer Mike Pace kept cracking the crowd up by commenting on the various perks of the festival's corporate sponsorship (something about how drinking from mini-keg shaped cans of Heineken makes you look like a giant). I'm sorry to say I don't have the band's new album yet, so I can't tell you what the name of that new song I really liked was, but so long as they play "Please Visit Your National Parks" and that one other song I don't know the name of, I'm happy.

As for Bodies of Water, the less said, the better. I'm not proud of my bitchy judgmental side, but frankly, the chances of me liking a band in which one of the members is wearing a full-body leotard are pretty small. They weren't terrible; they just weren't my thing. Plus, it was more fun to stand in the hallway, catching up with my friend and watching various people (from a guy with a book-related website to two busty blondes) come to talk to him about how much they liked Oxford Collapse's set. There was a fair amount of kicking each other every time a member of Sleater-Kinney walked by, also. (Two outta three, if you're curious.)

Eugene shout-out moment: Former Horsehead bartender Kris Clouse turned up. Hi, Kris!

Starfucker was cool, but seemed to go by awfully quickly. I felt like I never quite got a sense of what they were doing. In retrospect, this could have had something to do with my being chatty instead of paying attention. Sorry, fellas; I liked your band, I just need to go back and actually listen.

Deerhunter, on the other hand, provided one of those moments when you see a band and are half overwhelmed and half entranced, half thinking about how you want to listen to them again at a lower volume so you can think straight and half incapable of thought. In short, it was fucking loud. I'm listening to them via MySpace right now and it's not even beginning to approximate the sensation of leaning my head against the wall and feeling my brain rattle.

Photo by Jeff Walls. I should point out that he had a crazy flash; it was super-dark in there!

They're also quite funny, these folks, and watching various members of other bands stand to the side of the stage, engrossed, was an added level of entertainment. (Also entertaining: Holocene's hyperactive, totally funny soundwoman, whose energy levels I seriously envy.) There was a whole thing with the bassist being a shapeshifter, the possibiltiy of puking, a Q&A session somewhat inspired by/in rebuke to a Q&A Crispin Glover had about a movie he made ... yeah, it was complicated. And awesome. And loud. And shoegazery — a My Bloody Valentine comparison was made, but I think it involved extra decibels — and assaultive and kind of intense. I kept being reminded of seeing Mogwai; if you're not up for what you're in for, you aren't going to like it.

I liked it. I also liked stealing a seat in Holocene's weird little side-of-stage nook and finally getting off my feet for the first time in hours, and enjoying corporate-sponsor-provided beer while trying to have the kind of conversations you have when the band is so loud, you hurt your friends' ears trying to yell loudly enough that they can hear you.

I have high hopes for tonight: Britt Daniel! Jaguar Love! TV on the Radio! Fuck yeah! But first: shoe shopping and, er, failing to resist the urge to go buy Deerhunter and Oxford Collapse records. Yep.

August 30, 2008 11:58 PM

I started to write a post. It covered football, New Orleans and Minneapolis. It didn't cut it. So I'm just going to give you links.

• Massive police raids on suspected protesters in Minneapolis.

• Mandatory evacuations to begin Sunday morning in New Orleans.

I'm pretty sure you guys can point out the numerous things wrong with both these pictures without me. And you don't need my pithy comments on Mike Bellotti's crappy goatee — or on Sarah Palin's ability to say exactly the kinds of things that make me want to tear my hair out — either.

So I'll just keep reading.

August 27, 2008 04:26 PM

I have a tendency to avoid blogging things if I think everyone's already seen them. Sometimes I'm totally wrong, like with that damn fonts video I sent to Chuck a month or so ago. It was only kinda funny then, and now that it's making the rounds, it's getting annoying. But these two things are still cool! I swear!

1. Yeltsin video for "We Will Become a Factory"

2. The Daily Show demonstrates proper snarking techniques with a billboard near the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, welcoming RNC-goers:

Well played, Jon Stewart. Well played.

August 21, 2008 02:47 PM

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head for THREE DAYS. It's from Hamlet 2, which opens tomorrow and promises to be hilarious, at least for certain folks. (No one else in the theater for Tropic Thunder on Monday laughed during this preview, but then, a considerable portion of that audience though the very funniest thing in Tropic was Jack Black's elaborate description of the sex act he'd perform for the person who untied him from a tree, so ... take that for whatever you think it's worth.)

August 19, 2008 10:41 PM

... at least not if you watch this alternate ending. It's not perfect, but it's got balls. I like that.

August 15, 2008 04:13 PM

It's that time again. It's that wonderful, entertaining, aggravating, astonishing, hysterical-laughter-inducing time again. Oh, the replies! Oh, the campaigns! Oh, the ballot stuffing!

BRING IT! (But not the ballot stuffing. C'mon, now. Ballot stuffing doesn't really help your cause in the long run, as it tends to make ballot-counters resentful and cranky. Creative responses, on the other hand, can win you fans for life.)

August 15, 2008 04:57 PM

Pizza Research Institute now has another award to hang next to their handful of Best of Eugene certificates: The delicious pies and slices have led the tiny, tempting-smelling joint to be selected as one of the country's Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Pizzerias. They're sitting nicely in the middle of the pack at number five; the press release from PETA says:

The Pizza Research Institute is a much hipper place than its name implies. However, with all the one-of-a-kind pizzas they offer, you would think that there really were a staff of scientists in the kitchen. Health-conscious diners will find on the menu such items as the Chef's Choice, which redefines “veggie lover;” the "3P" with pears, potatoes, and pineapples; and toppings as far-out as corn on the cob.

Congrats, you guys! Funny, now I think I'm hungry for pizza...

August 14, 2008 02:23 PM

This one made me whimper aloud: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince pushed back to summer 2009. The details are all in that link, but here's a key quote from the press release:

In making the announcement, [WB President Alan] Horn stated, “Our reasons for shifting ‘Half-Blood Prince’ to summer are twofold: we know the summer season is an ideal window for a family tent pole release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film, which is the second-highest grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment. Additionally, like every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers’ strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films—changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. We agreed the best strategy was to move ‘Half-Blood Prince’ to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer.”

OK, I lied: The most disappointing bit of this release is the news — not new, but still, it hurts — that David Yates will also direct the two-part Deathly Hallows. Yates directed the last HP film, Order of the Phoenix, and to my mind stripped it of a very key point: In the film's climactic sequence, the kids hardly did any fighting. They weren't in the battle; they were in trouble, then they were rescued by adults. That's not what happens; what happens is they become really aware of the seriousness of the fight they're in — not just because of a certain death, but because they're casting spells and fighting for their lives in a way that only Harry has experienced before.

In Yates' film, though, the older generation saves the day. There were other changes, of course, and the film was too Cliffs-Notesy, lacking emotional heft, but that was the most egregious mistake of the lot.

Sad. Sad, sad, sad. Bring Alfonso Cuarón back, damn you!

Anyway. None of this makes the first trailer for Half-Blood Prince any less awesome:

August 12, 2008 10:21 AM

Presented without comment, because, well, I think this pretty well speaks for itself:

Has anyone made a video of Obama misspeaking? Could it even faintly compare? I'm betting not.

August 8, 2008 04:42 PM

It's a bad sign when I haven't got a single post in the recent blog posts column. I've got no excuse, really, except that I got blogged out — in the reading sense — during Comic-Con (which I really do prefer calling Nerd Prom). News! Trailers that stayed up for less than 24 hours! (Why is Emma Frost in Wolverine: Origins? Do I care? I love Emma Frost.) Twitter updates from attending friends! Emailing other friends to beg them to nab stuff for me! ACK!

There was just too much excitement. TOO MUCH, I tell you. And in roughly the same timeframe, the internet was exploding over two things:

1. The apparently unbelievable crappiness of Stephenie Meyer's fourth book about the OMG PERFECT vampire Edward and basically OMG PERFECT — but clumsy! — teenage girl who falls in love with him. (That link isn't quite as mean as some but it's a) funny and b) a very good illustration of what precisely the fuss is about.) For a good take on that fat book you might see everywhere that isn't by J.K. Rowling, see Salon's "Touched By a Vampire."

2. Some people didn't like The Dark Knight! And these people were immediately met with insane outpourings of fanboy rage, which then turned half the TDK discussion into a frothing meta-mess of Why Critics/Fanboys Are Idiots/Smarter. Because we needed another one of these navel-gazing conversations, clearly. Also worth a good (if slightly bitter) chuckle: George Bush is Batman (or is it the other way around?). I've meant for, what, weeks? now to post a much longer and much more spoiler-involving commentary about TDK, but I seem to have lost some momentum. Maybe next week.

In totally unrelated news, I heart Sherman Alexie. The linked article, "Sixty-one Things I Learned During the Sonics Trial," includes the following gems:

"15. In writing, thinking, and talking about the Sonics' possible relocation to Oklahoma City, I shuffle like an iPod through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and Hall & Oates."

"21. Yeah, I cuss a lot. Get over it. In writing about basketball, it would be utterly hypocritical to abstain from cursing. Did you catch the last four minutes of the Boston Celtics game six tap-out of the Los Angeles Lakers? As they danced together on the sidelines and celebrated their world championship, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce danced and sang so many "motherfuckers" that the bleeped-over broadcast turned into a John Cage sound collage."

And many more. Is it basketball season yet?

And that's it for now. So much else out there. Let's see if I can't blog at least twice next week.

July 23, 2008 02:32 PM

Another bicyclist has been struck by a car, this time he survived.

According to a police press release, Thea Peck, 36, was cited by police Monday, July 21 after she struck cyclist Daniel Rasmussen, 22, in a crosswalk near the 30th Ave. Albertsons, sending the biker to the hospital. EPD ticketed Peck for allegedly committing the violations of "Careless Driving" and "Passing a Stopped Vehicle at a Crosswalk."

Here's the EPD description of the 10:42 am accident:

"Investigating officers found that the bicyclist, Daniel Rasmussen, was crossing 30th Avenue southbound in a marked crosswalk on the west side of the intersection. Two drivers (one heading south on Alder Street, one heading east on 30th Avenue) stopped their vehicles to allow Rasmussen to cross. A third driver, Thea Peck, was eastbound on 30th Avenue in her silver Honda Odyssey, accelerating in the right-hand lane. She passed the stopped car in the left-hand lane, entered the crosswalk, and struck Rasmussen in the intersection."

Here's a Google Map of the intersection.

View Larger Map

Last month a car struck and killed David Minor, 27, in front of Kinkos at 13th and Willamette. Police alleged that Minor turned in front of the car and did not cite the driver.

July 22, 2008 11:05 AM

Oh, Disney.

Via The Chicago Tribune:

Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert and columnist Richard Roeper are cutting ties with the TV franchise that Disney-ABC Domestic Television has syndicated nationally for 22 years.

Each cited major changes they say Disney plans to make to the movie-review program that for three decades has forced filmmakers and studio executives on both coasts and beyond to pay heed to judgments of their work in Chicago, the heart of flyover country.

I never manage to remember when the show is on, and so I rarely watch it on purpose — but that isn't the point. The point is that whatever Disney's doing, it's so unpleasant that both men are leaving. The other point is that while sometimes I've been utterly perplexed by Ebert, at others — and especially recently — I've found his gentle touch and strong personality completely absorbing. (You just have to read him online, not in the seemingly chopped up versions that appear in some print outlets.)

Ebert's statement is here; Roeper is quoted at length here. I don't even like Roeper, not one whit, and I'm still sad.

And ineloquent, too. Why does it have to be a Tuesday today?

July 18, 2008 03:15 PM

So The Dark Knight Returns (damn, that's a hard habit to break) made $18 million from midnight showings last night — er, this morning.

That's a lot of dollars. That's more than some movies I could name made in their entire opening weekends.

... and that's all I've got. Until tomorrow, at least. Trying to hide from all the reviews out there gets more difficult by the minute.