Showing posts from 2010

Song of the Day: "Percussion Gun," White Rabbits

This song by this Columbia, Ohio-born, New York based band came out last year, but I've only recently discovered it through the magic of iTunes (and this pretty straightforward YouTube performance video). If you're a fan of Spoon, you'll note that the track's got that band's footprints all over it, and that's no accident: Spoon's mainman Britt Daniels produced the record. I could prattle on, music-nerd-style, about all the elements that sound so cool: The Adam-Ant-gone-indie dual drums pounding away; the cool way that Stephen Patterson's energized and searching vocals are often just accompanied by that percussion, or by a few stark guitar or piano notes; how the handclaps drive along the instrumental bridges; the great, jagged-crystal sheen of the production; yada, yada, yada. But if you're in a stage of restless transition (and God knows I am right now), all of those pieces are just couriers. That relentless percussive drive, the backing vo

Passings: Ingrid Pitt, Actress and Author

Hammer Films --Britain's legendary horror film factory throughout the fifties, sixties, and seventies--pushed the genre into the modern age with swatches of rich color (emphasis on the crimson, of course) and a willingness to push the envelope of content. Suddenly, all of the latent sensuality and shocking violence insinuated in the Golden-Age Universal thrillers of the '30's and '40's was spelled out. One of the key figures in that massive shift, actress and author Ingrid Pitt, died yesterday at the age of 73 . Born in Poland in 1937, Pitt's real life was filled with enough drama to rival any of the movies enriched by her presence. She survived internment in a concentration camp as a child, then was forced to flee communist Berlin as a young woman--on the night of her planned stage debut (the British officer who rescued her eventually became her first husband). A few years later she was discovered by producers watching a bullfight, and her career as an actres

More Rock Photos: Mark Pickerel, Lindsay Fuller, Rusty Willoughby at the Tractor Tavern

The Tractor Tavern played host to a pretty nifty show on Friday July 2, and once again I was on hand with a camera. A detailed review and slideshow can be seen at the Seattle Concerts Examiner, but I had to (again) crop the pictures and omit a few that I really liked. Rusty Willoughby: Lindsay Fuller and the Cheap Dates: Mark Pickerel and his Praying Hands:

Columbia City Theater Grand Re-Opening: Kelli Schaefer, Drew Grow, Grand Hallway

The Columbia City Theater in South Seattle celebrated its Grand (Re-) Opening with two free shows June 25 and 26, and it was a pip by all accounts. Duties with Bizarro Movie Night kept me from seeing the June 25 show (a Hip-Hop extravaganza featuring Mash Hall, Cloud Nice, and DJ Suspence), but I was in attendance, camera in hand, for the Saturday performance by Kelli Schaefer , Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives , and Grand Hallway . Details (and a slideshow) can be accessed at the Seattle Concerts Examiner by going here . I had an embarassment of riches, photos-wise: Chock it up to great good luck, and great subjects. Only a small portion were used for the Examiner slideshow, and I had to severely truncate the photos that did make the cut, so enclosed please find some of my favorite snapshots of the evening, in all their un-shrunk, un-cropped beauty. Click on each to see a larger version if you like. Kelli Schaefer: Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives: Grand Hallwa

My Springtime with SIFF

If'n you read the last entry, you know I've been a movie-watchin' mole lo, these last three weeks, and it's been quite the adventure. In addition to seeing more movies in theaters in that span than I did in the preceding six months, I was able to freeload my way into the Seattle International Film Festival Opening and Closing Night Galas, where neon-colored cocktails and much shared movie geekery amongst fellow nerds/journalists flowed freely. And I met some talented and fascinating filmmakers, to boot. I saw 28 feature films during the run of SIFF. Almost all of them were good-to-great; only a couple were straight-up disappointments. Enclosed please find my evaluations of everything I saw, along with accompanying ratings. The Extra Man : **1/2 The Fest opening film was a quirky comedy featuring Kevin Kline as a struggling playwright who escorts elderly rich women and takes recently-unemployed Ivy League professor Paul Dano under his wing. Kline's a hoot, as al

Quick Update from SIFF-land

Damn, I love this poster. Just saying. And it does have a bearing on this overdue Petri Dish missive. The last two to three weeks of my life have been spent split between my day job and the glorious rigor that has been covering the Seattle International Film Festival for the . I've seen a ton of great movies, and better yet, I've been able to interview some of the makers of those films in detail. It's been the most inspiring couple of weeks I've had, writing-and-movie-lust-wise, in awhile; though the writing part's been hard to squeeze in 'twixt dashing madly between theaters, home (sleeping and eating can be quite the nuisance sometimes), and the W Hotel (site of most of the interviews I've conducted). I'm enjoying an actual vacation (or, more likely and aptly, a stay-cation) for the next couple of weeks and plan to use that time to get a lot of creative/writing things up to speed. I'll, of course, be getting the ol' Petri Dish c

Life Doesn't Slow Down: A Petri Dish Update

Pardon me for not posting anything new here in a spell. I haven't been idle, by any measure. Much of my non-day-job time's been parced out between a couple of enterprises. One of them is Bizarro Movie Nights at the Aster Coffee Lounge in scenic Ballard, Washington, in which I put my Doctorate of Schlockology to the test by presenting strange cinema of various stripes on the grandeur of a big(gish) projection screen. Yours Truly delivers patter so snappy you can scat sing to it (when I'm not ceding hosting duties to the eminent El Serpiente de Oro); audiences laugh and stare goggle-eyed at pinheaded giants, cackling Indonesian witches, and Satan-fighting holiday icons; and everyone can partake of fine coffees, teas, beers and wines in one of Ballard's coziest locales! Go to the Bizarro Blog for details. Next one's on May 1, and we're featuring a night of vice and sin, Depression-era style--Don't miss it! I've also been pouring a lot of spare time int

Jerry Cantrell Gets an Emergency Steak Knife Tracheotomy: Final Chapter, Tales of Brave Mark Lanegan

I went to high school with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell (he graduated one year ahead of me). We sang in choir together, and spent a lot of time talking music: He was one of the few headbangers during that halcyon time (ahem, the early eighties) that didn't grimace when you mentioned The Clash or The Sex Pistols. We even partied together some: One of the most surreal things I ever saw after an all-night party was Jerry in the front yard of Kevin Yeagher's parents' house as the sun rose, sitting hunched over like some zen gargoyle. Beads of morning dew peppered his serenely sleeping-sitting-up form like spiders' eggs as steam rose from the grass. It was a strange and humorous vision that always stuck with me, and we had a good laugh about it the following week in choir class. The last time we bumped into one another was at the taping of MTV's New Years' Show somewhere around 1993. Cypress Hill, The Breeders, and Nirvana headlined; Jerry was a VIP gu

Tales of Brave Mark Lanegan #3: A Blow to the Happy Sacks Sparks the Seattle Scene

The third installment of The Tales of Brave Mark Lanegan (see parts one and two to catch up) showcases Lanegan's um, lateral, contribution to the Northwest Music Scene via a misapplied Ninja kick. Click on image to enlarge.   In case the joke's not immediately apparent, one of the songs on Nirvana's multi-megaton smash Nevermind was a track called "Stay Away," hence the speculative fiction on its genesis. ( The actual origin of the song is a bit less, um, impactful). OK, after eighteen years the below panel still makes me snicker. Go figure.

Tales of Brave Mark Lanegan, Part 2: Lanegan Rescues Calvin Johnson from a Bear

In the second volume of Tales of Brave Mark Lanegan (circa 1993), the Singing Tree saves the head of K Records (Beat Happening/Dub Narcotic Sound System Singer/songwriter Calvin Johnson ) from the clutches of a pissed-off bear. Johnson was/is a great songwriter and important figure in Indie Rock (Beck released an early album on K Records, and the whole Olympia music scene that Johnson helped create influenced the DIY and Riot Grrl scenes immensely). Johnson was also the vocal equivalent of Eeyore on some of those Beat Happening records. One of the highlights of my early music geekdom was attending a K Records Barbecue with my buddy Brad circa 1988, and getting into a humorous drunken discourse with Calvin Johnson on whether or not Isaac Hayes ever recorded a version of the theme from Shaft on which Hayes sang the F word instead of implying it with, "He's a Bad Mother--Shut your mouth." (Calvin insisted that Black Moses did sing the unexpurgated word on a recorded v

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Tales of Brave Mark Lanegan Part 1

 I spent one night not too long ago, scanning various print articles from my chequered past in that eternal, Quixotic quest to drum up some paid scribbling gigs. There, buried amongst features about everything from operatic sopranos to Mexican masked wrestlers, resided an entertainingly silly piece of my misspent youth. And this being a blog, I thought I'd share. This is a bit of a long set-up, but it's kinda in order. I was 24 years old, toiling away at a couple of telemarketing jobs circa 1992. One of these gigs was for an 'Employment Services' group known as Progressive Media. They specialized in selling Employment Guidebooks for everything from working on fishing boats in Alaska to teaching English as a Second Language in Japan. We received only inbound calls, so frequently I and my fellow bored twenty-somethings--music geeks all--wasted time doing strange things. Like (if you were me, at least) drawing cartoons of famous grunge singers. The Screaming Trees wer