Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another Scenic Drive Sign!

It's been over seven years since my last post on Seattle's Scenic Drives, 'cause I thought I was done with the topic. But in the past week I happened to come across another sign that I somehow overlooked way back when. It's on the east side of California Ave SW, just north of SW Admiral Way, facing south.

Perhaps I'll do a 2014 update to see which Scenic Drive signs I know of are still out there.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

We Hardly Knew Ye: Scott Asheton

Dead at 64.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Hardly Knew Ye: Harold Ramis

The cowriter of Animal House (1978), the director and cowriter of Caddyshack (1980), and the director and uncredited cowriter of Vacation (1983) is dead at 69.

Those were three of my favorite movies growing up, and they still are.

Lesser faves he directed and/or (co)wrote and/or acted in include Meatballs (1979), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Back to School (1986), Groundhog Day (1993), and the underrated Stuart Saves His Family (1995).
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Hardly Knew Ye: Bob Casale

Devo co-founder dead at 61.

That's him on the blue guitar.
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Sunday, February 09, 2014

I Can't Quit You, Quatchi! #5

Hard to believe it's been four years since Eliza and I began Quatchi Watch, our blog celebrating the cool Sasquatch mascot created by Meomi for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. (Quatchi's co-mascots Miga, Sumi and Mukmuk made guest appearances too.) And it's been well over two years since I've had any Quatchi news on my personal blog. So, with the 2014 Winter Olympics now in full swing, it's high time for another Quatchi update...

Our biggest Quatchi scoop came from poking around the Museum of Vancouver's searchable online database -- he was originally named Zooni (!?!), he had no feet, and his brown, ovoid nose was instead represented by a pair of tiny nostrils, as seen up above... Below, Zooni sports eyebrows as well, something Quatchi never had...

This next one shows how Mukmuk (not Miga) seemed to be Zooni's original partner in crime...

As for the Quatchi we've come to know and love, here's a blurry color guide...

Going back even earlier is this preliminary Zooni/Quatchi sketch...

Typing "Quatchi" into the Museum of Vancouver database search returns 211 results, a big chunk of which are collectible pins. Says the MOV: "We have become well versed in the surprisingly elaborate backstories of Quatchi, Miga, Sumi, and Mukmuk. This is in addition to charting their evolution from simple line drawings to 3D renderings to officially licensed Olympic merchandise and full-sized costumes." I found these two...

The detailed physical descriptions in those costume links are particularly interesting -- I'd love to see a Quatchi "Bound Costume Performance Manual"... The larger-than-life-sized mascots also wore this hockey jersey (follow the link to see the accompanying goalie stick and pads)...

One of the Quatchi costumes, as well as those of Miga and Sumi, were on loan to Vancouver's BC Sports Hall of Fame when I visited in February 2012. Here we all are...

Elsewhere in the Quatchi-verse, the handful of other Quatchi-related sites and blogs have mostly petered out, save for QuatchWatch, where Sammers and her fuzzy companions continue to travel everywhere, bake up a storm, and explore their Toronto home, like at this David Bowie art exhibit...

Quatchi also still appears in regular comic-strip form on the Homeless Quatchi Project, a site that raises awareness about Vancouver's homelessness problem. For whatever reason he's blue instead of brown, maybe because he's cold. Here's a sample...

And a cool .gif...

On TV, our favorite masquatch (to coin a portmanteau) was mentioned in an $800 answer on the November 9, 2011 episode of Jeopardy!... Spoiler alert! The contestant got the correct question -- see for yourself at the 6:37 mark in this video...

Check out this faux horror-movie trailer for Quatchi and the Ghost, featuring a killer homemade costume...

And here's a very short computer animation of Quatchi moseying along...

The most expensive Quatchi item currently on eBay is this four-foot fiberglass figure, listed at $19,999 (plus $799.99 shipping)...

That's about it for now. For those catching up, here are my previous Quatchi updates, from February 12, 2011, February 28, 2011, June 6, 2011, and November 27, 2011, as well as everything on my blog with a Quatchi tag. As usual, there's always more Quatchi stuff to be found on flickr, Pinterest, Pingram, Tumblr, YouTube and so forth. Finally, there's this Facebook page called Long Live Quatchi, which pretty much says it all.
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Monday, February 03, 2014

Cool Seahawks Shit Update: Super Bowl Champs!

Box.
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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cool Seahawks Shit

In honor of the Seahawks playing in today's Super Bowl, here's an assortment of memorabilia, memories, and other stuff dating back to their inaugural season, 1976, when I was seven. In many of my childhood photos I'm wearing Seahawks-branded jackets, sweatshirts, a beanie and a polo shirt. I also had a brass Seahawks belt buckle and a Steve Largent jersey, and probably some other things that I don't recall. I do recall having some other non-clothing items, like Seahawks drinking glasses from McDonald's (they all eventually broke) and a Seahawks gumball helmet (whereabouts unknown), and I still have my original 1976 pennant, though it's yellowed with age. That's it in above photo, along with most of my other Seahawks collection. I took that picture in 2006, the only other time Seattle made the Super Bowl.

The origin of the Seahawks logo was recently explored in this cool Burke Museum blog post; it includes the above graphic, which I distinctly remember seeing in the newspaper way back when.
Below is what the maiden '76 Topps Seahawks football cards looked like...


In March 1977, I saw Ron Howard (not Richie Cunningham, but the guy above) and some other Seahawks play a charity basketball game against the varsity squad at Kent-Meridian, where ten years later I'd graduate high school. That's me in my Seahawks windbreaker, having just gotten Steve Largent's autograph and zeroing in on the next guy...

As if one Largent autograph wasn't enough, I also sent the future Hall-of-Famer some fan mail, and got this in return...

Largent used to be my favorite Seahawk, before he went into politics to push his doucheball agenda. I never really adopted a new favorite Seahawk.
Here's a Polaroid of me with an unnamed Seagal cheerleader at the Seatac Mall Jafco, circa 1978. It was some promotional thing...


Also leading cheers was the first (and best) Seahawks mascot, who disappeared not long after his 1979 debut...


All along I've collected these Seahawks pocket schedules, my favorite being the '79 sked featuring original quarterback Jim Zorn...


The southpaw once made a personal appearance at my elementary school, driving up in his silver, Seahawk logo-adorned Datsun 280Z. Alas, he visited some classroom other than mine.
I don't own any of these media guides; I just found the images online and posted 'em to Flickr...


Also on Flickr is my set of Seattle athletes on the cover of Sports Illustrated; the first Seahawk wasn't so featured until Shaun Alexander's appearance in 2005...

This is my favorite Seahawks souvenir of the '80s, a perfect-bound book with lots of color photos...


Back when the Hawks made it to the Super Bowl in 2006, I wrote a blog post about the then-current Seahawks novelty songs. (There's far more such tunes this time around, but I didn't feel inspired to compile them.) Around the same time, we named one of our goldfish after the QB who led the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL: Matt Hasselbeck, 2006-2006. RIP, buddy...

Another thing I wrote was the trollish The 12th Man is Stupid. Sorry, but I still think it's lame that the team retired number 12. Here's part of a 1984 Seattle Times article I dug up at the library explaining the origin of this nonsense...

On a similar note, this recent 12th Man article in The Onion cracked me up...


Every time I see these clowns I think of this.
In anticipation of this year's Super Bowl, I picked up a few impulse souvenirs: a cool Seahawks cap (I quickly took a seam ripper to the dumb New Era logo on its side), a Super Bowl XLVIII program (found yesterday at Costco), and from Bartell, a Russell Wilson Lego-type guy...

Over the last couple weeks I've been working on this sweet 1980 latch hook kit I scored on eBay -- here's how it turned out, alongside the original box art...


All this Hawk talk got me to thinking about the actual games I've attended. They've gone 8-1 with me in the stands, either at the Kingdome (the first seven games listed below) or at their current stadium (the last two). Here are the results...
November 7, 1976 – Beat Atlanta, 30-13
October 2, 1977 – Lost to Denver, 24-12
November 18, 1979 – Beat New Orleans, 38-24
November 16, 1981 – Beat San Diego, 44-23
November 27, 1983 – Beat Kansas City, 51-48
September 9, 1984 – Beat San Diego, 31-17
December 2, 1984 – Beat Detroit 38-17
October 31, 2004 – Beat Carolina, 23-17
September 24, 2012 – Beat Green Bay, 14-12
Alright, that's it. Hopefully by the end of today, the Seahawks will have secured Seattle's first major pro sports championship since the Sonics won the NBA title 35 years ago. I have nothing left to say, except "Go Hawks!"
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We Hardly Knew Ye: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Dead at 46.
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Pop Culture of 2013!

Movies
Of the 32 movies I watched this year, only six were 2013 releases: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Don Jon, Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa, This Is the End, Sound City and Star Trek Into Darkness. The Big Star documentary was great; the others ranged from pretty good to meh... I still wanna see Anchorman 2, Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Punk Singer and some others... As for older movies, I rediscovered Blade Runner, and watched its myriad versions multiple times.

TV
Bob's Burgers became a new favorite. I plowed through all five seasons of Parks and Recreation in a few weeks, and kept current with the latest seasons of Louie and Mad Men. I watched Breaking Bad all the way up through its finale, and while I saw some of the final-season episodes of Eastbound & Down, I haven't yet caught the end. I still watch Saturday Night Live fairly religiously, as I have for the last 25-odd years, mostly out of habit. It's still topical and unpredictable, if not consistently funny.

Rock 'n' Roll
The only 2013 album I regularly played start to finish was David Bowie's The Next Day (unless you count Best Coast's seven-song EP/mini-album thing Fade Away). This led me to revisit all of Bowie's back catalog, which I listened to pretty extensively for much of the year (I played "Station to Station" dozens of times in the car)... Disappointing were new releases by the Pixies, the Strokes, the Replacements and Iggy & the Stooges... However, the 'Mats and the Stooges kicked ass at the Toronto Riot Fest; the only other show I went to this year was a Mudhoney in-store on April Fool's Day... As for older stuff, I sprang for Bob Dylan's 47-disc Complete Album Collection: Vol. One ($197 on Amazon -- that's $4.19 per disc!)... The one album I listened to far more than any other was 1980's Pleasure by Girls at Our Best!. Since I couldn't find the lyrics anyplace, I took a shot at transcribing them here... Other 2013 albums/songs I like:
Camera Obscura -- "Do It Again"
Neko Case -- "Madonna of the Wasps"
Dead Ghosts -- "B.A.D."
Grant Hart -- "Morningstar"
Melvins -- Everybody Loves Sausages, Tres Cabrones
Mudhoney -- Vanishing Point
Thee Oh Sees -- Floating Coffin
Those Darlins -- "Optimist"
Wooden Shjips -- "Ruins"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs -- Mosquito

Books
Jeez, did I only read two books this year? Yep. Those would be Bebe Day by Day by Pamela Druckerman and Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat. Both are related to parenting, which makes sense -- in January I became a first-time dad to twin girls (which also explains why I've been even further out of the pop-culture loop this year)... The Replacements: Waxed-Up Hair and Painted Shoes: The Photographic History looks terrific, though I haven't actually read the text yet. Same with Fan Interference, which is also gathering dust on my nightstand.

Comics
Didn't read many comics either, other than Peter Bagge's Reset, Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half, and A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown. All good.


For those keeping score, here are my favorites from 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 (movies and music).
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My 2013 New York Times Crossword Stats

Of the 365 New York Times crossword puzzles published in 2013, I solved 232 of them, or 64%. By “solved” I mean I correctly filled in all the blank squares without any outside assistance, whether by asking for help or looking things up or anything else like that. And I only do 'em with pen on paper -- that's today's puzzle, above. I also kept semi-detailed records on my progress, as broken down in the sabermetric-like stats below...

Percentage Solved by Month
January: 13/31 -- 42% (year-to-date: 13/31-- 42%)
February: 16/28 -- 57% (year-to-date: 29/59 -- 49%)
March: 15/31 -- 48% (year-to-date: 44/90 -- 49%)
April: 19/30 -- 63% (year-to-date: 63/120 -- 53%)
May: 13/31 -- 42% (year-to-date: 76/151 -- 50%)
June: 20/30 -- 67% (year-to-date: 96/181 -- 53%)
July: 23/31 -- 74% (year-to-date: 119/212 -- 56%)
August: 25/31 -- 81% (year-to-date: 144/243 -- 59%)
September: 24/30 -- 80% (year-to-date: 168/273 -- 62%)
October: 23/31 -- 74% (year-to-date: 191/304 -- 63%)
November: 21/30 -- 70% (year-to-date: 212/334 -- 63%)
December: 20/31 -- 65% (year-to-date: 232/365 -- 64%)
After starting the year relatively slowly, I solved the greatest number (and percentage) of puzzles in August -- don’t know if they were easier then, or if I was in the proverbial zone, or what. My longest solving streak was 25, from Sunday August 18 to Wednesday September 11. (On the other hand, my worst unsolved streaks were a couple of five-day runs early in the year.) But the general trend is that I got better as the year went on, having solved just 53% in the first six months of the year, followed by 74% in the second six months.

Percentage Solved by Day
Mondays: 48/52 -- 92%
Tuesdays: 45/53 -- 85%
Wednesdays: 38/52 -- 73%
Thursdays: 32/52 -- 62%
Fridays: 33/52 -- 64%
Saturdays: 15/52 -- 29%
Sundays: 21/52 -- 40%
The puzzles generally get tougher as the week progresses, with Saturdays being by far the hardest. I’d say Sundays are about as difficult as Wednesdays or Thursdays, but the 21x21 Sunday grids are almost twice as large as the 15x15 Monday-Saturday grids, so there are nearly double the opportunities to goof up.

Errors Per Month
January: 108
Errors per day: 108/31 -- 3.5
Year-to-date errors per day: 108/31 -- 3.5
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 108/18 -- 6.0
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 108/18 -- 6.0

February: 101
Errors per day: 101/28 -- 3.6
Year-to-date errors per day: 209/59 -- 3.5
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 101/12 -- 8.4
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 209/30 -- 7.0

March: 206
Errors per day: 206/31 -- 6.6
Year-to-date errors per day: 415/90 -- 4.6
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 206/16 -- 12.9
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 415/46 -- 9.0

April: 34
Errors per day: 34/30 -- 1.1
Year-to-date errors per day: 449/120 -- 3.7
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 34/11 -- 3.1
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 449/57 -- 7.9

May: 203
Errors per day: 203/31 -- 6.5
Year-to-date errors per day: 652/151 -- 4.3
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 203/18 -- 11.3
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 652/75 -- 8.7

June: 26
Errors per day: 26/30 -- 0.9
Year-to-date errors per day: 678/181 -- 3.7
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 26/10 -- 2.6
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 678/85 -- 8.0

July: 15
Errors per day: 15/31 -- 0.5
Year-to-date errors per day: 693/212 -- 3.3
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 15/8 -- 1.9
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 693/93 -- 7.5

August: 140
Errors per day: 140/31 -- 4.5
Year-to-date errors per day: 833/243 -- 3.4
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 140/6 -- 23
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 833/99 -- 8.4

September: 49
Errors per day: 49/30 -- 1.6
Year-to-date errors per day: 882/273 -- 3.2
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 49/6 -- 8.2
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 882/105 -- 8.4

October: 31
Errors per day: 31/31 -- 1
Year-to-date errors per day: 913/304 -- 3.0
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 31/8 -- 3.9
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 913/113 -- 8.1

November: 143
Errors per day: 143/30 -- 4.8
Year-to-date errors per day: 1,056/334 -- 3.2
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 143/9 -- 15.9
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle:- 1,056/122 -- 8.7

December: 235
Errors per day: 235/31 -- 7.6
Year-to-date errors per day: 1,291/365 – 3.5
Errors per unsolved puzzle: 235/11 -- 21.4
Year-to-date errors per unsolved puzzle: 1291/133 -- 9.7
These numbers show how badly I did on the puzzles I didn’t solve, with an “error” being any square in a puzzle that is left blank or contains an incorrect entry. I basically kicked ass in July, making only 15 errors during the entire month, while December was the worst, with 235 errors (it was the end of the year, so I was just playing out the season). I got totally blown out on a few Fridays and Saturdays, leaving dozens of blank squares ‘cause I couldn’t make any headway on those puzzles to begin with. The worst was Saturday May 18, when I made 150 errors -- oof.

Errors Per Day
Mondays: 4
Tuesdays: 12
Wednesdays: 21
Thursdays: 54
Fridays: 192
Saturdays: 863
Sundays: 145
Meaning that in the course of the year, I made only four errors in 52 Monday puzzles, and 863 in as many Saturday puzzles. Starting next year I’m also gonna keep track of how many squares there are per puzzle, so I can calculate what percentage of each puzzle I solve.

My 2014 goal is solving 75% of all puzzles -- 274 out of 365... How will I do? Watch this space on January 1, 2015.
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy 100th, Crosswords!

The crossword puzzle hits the big one-oh-oh today.

On December 21, 1913, Arthur Wynne's "Word-Cross" (above) was published in the New York World. The rest, as they say, is fucking history.

Stay tuned for my 2013 New York Times word-cross crossword stats, in ten days or so.
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

We Hardly Knew Ye: Billy Jack

Tom Laughlin is dead at 82.

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

We Hardly Knew Ye: Paul Crouch

President and founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which has provided me with countless hours of guilty television pleasure for the last 27-odd years, is dead at 79.

He is survived by his wife Jan Crouch, and Jan's cotton-candy hair.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

We Hardly Knew Ye: Lou Reed

Dead at 71.
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

We Hardly Knew Ye: Marcia Wallace

Carol Kester from The Bob Newhart Show and Edna Krabappel from The Simpsons is dead at 70.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

We Hardly Knew Ye: Don James

The greatest coach in Washington football history died yesterday at age 80.

In 18 seasons, from 1975 to 1992, James lead the Huskies to 14 bowl games. They won ten of them, including four Rose Bowls. In 1991, his 12-0 Huskies shared the national championship with Miami.

Read more here.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

1993

I recently bought 20th anniversary edition of Nirvana's In Utero, originally released in September 1993. Thinking back, '93 proved to be my rock 'n' roll high-water mark -- I bought more music, listened to more music, and went to more shows that year than any other, before or since. (I'm 44 now -- you do the math.) With that in mind, here are some of the songs and albums I dig most from nine-trey...

Bash & Pop -- Friday Night is Killing Me

Belly -- "Feed the Tree"

Frank Black -- "Los Angeles"

The Breeders -- "Divine Hammer"

Butthole Surfers -- Independent Worm Saloon (including "Who Was in My Room Last Night?", below)

Dinosaur Jr. -- Where You Been

Fastbacks -- "Gone to the Moon"

Girl Trouble -- New American Shame

PJ Harvey -- Rid of Me

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion -- Extra Width

Melvins -- Houdini (including "Hooch," above)

The Muffs -- The Muffs (including "Lucky Guy," below)

Nirvana -- In Utero

Royal Trux -- Cats and Dogs

Sebadoh -- Bubble and Scrape

Urge Overkill -- "Sister Havana"

Paul Westerberg -- "World Class Fad" (below)

Among the many live acts I saw in 1993: 7 Year Bitch, Belly, Come, Crash Worship, Dead Moon, Dinosaur Jr., Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, Girl Trouble, Grateful Dead, Gumball, Love Battery, Lunachicks, Mudhoney, Iggy Pop, Red Aunts, Keith Richards, Rocket from the Crypt, Sebadoh, Soul Asylum, Superchunk, Urge Overkill, Velocity Girl, Paul Westerberg and X. I saw the bulk of these in San Diego, where I lived most of that year.

Along similar lines, I probably watched more MTV in '93 than in any other year, not just for the music, but also for nightly viewings of Beavis and Butt-head (which premiered on March 8)... Music aside, my favorite-ever show, NBC's Late Night with David Letterman, ended on June 25, 1993, and CBS's Late Show with David Letterman debuted two months later, on August 30. Meanwhile, The Simpsons was essential viewing in '93, ending season four and beginning season five... I didn't watch many movies, but I loved CB4 and Dazed and Confused...

My pop-culture tastes were further developed that year 'cause that's when I got into alternative comics, particularly Peter Bagge's Hate and Dan Clowes's Eightball (I met both artists at that year's big San Diego Comic-Con, along with Matt Groening)... Additionally, '93 was the year I got into pinball, spending many a caffeine/niccotine-addled lunch hour playing Jurassic Park, Star Wars, The Twilight Zone, The Addams Family and Gilligan's Island.

So yeah. 1993. Cool.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

My Top Five iTunes Songs

According to iTunes, these are the five most-played tracks between my iPod, iPhone, and various Mac laptops, ever since I started using iTunes in 2006...

1. "Waterbed Babies" by Girls at Our Best!, from the album Pleasure (Happy Birthday, 1981).

2. "Nonsense" by Komeda, from the album Kokomemedada (Minty Fresh, 2003).

3. "Sunday Morning" by the Velvet Underground, from the album The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve, 1967).

4. "I Am Free" by the Kinks, from the album The Kink Kontroversy (Pye, 1965).

5. "Wreck My Flow" by the Dirtbombs, from the album We Have You Surrounded (In the Red, 2008).

For best results, play all five videos at once -- it's the best song ever!
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy 33rd, Sedins!

Creepy Canuck twins Daniel (L) and Henrik (R) hit the big three-three today.

Hockey season starts next Thursday Tuesday!
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy 74th, Fred!


Fred Willard hits the big seven-four today.

He's been in a countless movies and TV shows over the last 40 years, including personal faves King of the Hill, Anchorman, The Simpsons, This Is Spinal Tap and The Bob Newhart Show. However, he's never been funnier than in Christopher Guest's trilogy of mockumentaries: Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show and A Mighty Wind (2003), from which the above clip comes.

Then there was this unexpected bit of unpleasantness last year.
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Happy 46th, Louis!

Louis C.K. hits the big four-six today.

Aside from directing/editing/producing/starring in the consistently awesome, completely unpredictable Louie, he also created and starred in the criminally underrated Lucky Louie, and directed the criminally underrated Pootie Tang. As well as a bunch of other stuff.

He's also my favorite standup comedian -- I can totally relate to the above clip.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Hardly Knew Ye: Cal Worthington

Though he made his name in Southern California, his commercials aired relentlessly in the Seattle market too. Above is a sample; see many more here. New York Times obit.

Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.
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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I Wrote This: Seattle Rain or Shine

Hey everybody - I'm delighted to announce the release of this snazzy new map, published by Herb Lester, designed by Ellis Latham-Brown, and written by me! Read about 42 of my favorite Jet City spots to eat, drink, shop, and have fun. Get it here.
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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Happy 40th, Ghost Rider!

Issue #1 of Ghost Rider, starring my third-favorite comic book superhero (behind Batman and Spider-Man), was released 40 years ago this month. That's it above, though the character first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #5 in August 1972, with a cooler cover, below.

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