Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It Was Three Days Ago Today

For our Saturday night, pre-Halloween parties, Eliza dressed as mustard...

...and I "dressed" as a witch.

Then it was two days ago today that Kris and Jennie came with us to pick some pumpkins at the Washington Corn Maze (which I wrote about last year). That night we carved these bitchin' jack o' lanterns -- Kris did the Jesus one, Jennie made the one with the stars, Eliza made the one with the sinister grin, and I did the other two...

Happy Halloween!


It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Halloween, 1981: The Wave is invented at Husky Stadium.

Geez, lotsa entries here lately about big stadium events...

Anyway, the Wave's origin revolves around Robb Weller, a former UW "yell leader" who went on to a broadcasting career, most notably as an Entertainment Tonight co-host in the '80s, and now as host of a local news show in LA. Weller graduated from the UW in 1971, and was was often invited back to subsequent games as a "guest cheerleader." As he explains here: “We used to do a version of the wave, just in the student section of the stadium, but we didn’t have a name for it. Then, while I was serving as a guest cheerleader for the homecoming game in October 1981, the wave leaked out of the student section and just took off. That’s how it got started.”

The origin is explained a bit differently in Wet and Wired: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Pacific Northwest, which says Weller co-created the Wave with UW Marching Band Director Bill Bissell: "For a couple years, the two had experimented with a version that moved horizontally from the bottom row of stands to the top. Although it worked well, only part of the stadium could be involved at any one time. During the Halloween game with Stanford, however, they got the idea of moving the Wave section by section in a circular fashion throughout the stadium, and the thing just took off. Bissell recalled that the players stood in awe of what the fans were doing and that Stanford almost didn’t get its plays off."

In the following days, there was no mention of this weird new crowd cheer in the Seattle P-I or even the University of Washington's Daily, but Seattle Times columnist Georg N. Myers noted: “Washington’s student rooters remained glued to their seats, mesmerized by the medicine-man tactics of Robb Weller, the irrepressible, irreplaceable yell king of a decade ago. Into the final minute, Weller had the stands in a rolling roar, standing, section by section, shouting, waving arms. The decibel level was appropriate to the outrageous commotion on the field.”

The Huskies won, 42-31, and at some point soon after, the "rolling roar" became the world-famous "Wave."

There's also an entirely different, totally bullshit version of the Wave's origin according to some clown named Krazy George.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today

October 29, 1976: The Evel Knievel Spectacular stormed into the new Seattle Kingdome. My dad took me (and he also took the photos below). I was seven.

A year earlier, after Evel made his longest-ever jump by clearing 14 Greyhound buses outside Cincinnati, he announced he would no longer push himself any further. He wasn't kidding. In Seattle, the 38-year-old would attempt to jump only seven Greyhounds -- just half of that record distance. Even then, atop the last two buses sat a flat safety deck extending in from the landing ramp. Regardless, this jump was billed as an “attempt to set a world’s indoor record bus jump” -- not an exactly daunting challenge, as no “record” of this sort had ever existed before. Like, jumping one bus inside a barn would've sealed the deal.

In any case, before Evel's jump, the two-and-a-half hour show featured a bunch of other stuff, such as cars T-boning each other and a guy doing snowmobile tricks -- sans snow -- on the concrete floor. A "parade of all of Evel’s stunt cycles and vehicles" featured the the SkyCycle rocket that, two years earlier, Evel rode to the bottom of the Snake River Canyon.

Frank Gifford was on hand to call the action for ABC's Wide World of Sports, which aired the segment the next day (but not in Seattle, where the jump was blacked out because Evel would be jumping again that night). Gifford, wearing his mustard-colored network blazer and smoking a cigarette, looked bored. During a lull he walked over to chat with fans in the front row, including my dad and me.

But there weren't many fans to begin with. At best, the 64,000-seat Kingdome was roughly a quarter full (the Seattle Times put the attendance at 16,500; Seattle P-I went with 10,000). Either way, on TV the cavernous Kingdome appeared empty.

After the emcee interviewed the bus drivers and the jumbo video screen showed old Evel footage, Evel himself roared out on a wheelie. Dressed in his navy blue leathers, he then introduced his 14-year-old son Robbie, who twice jumped over five compact cars. Then father and son performed some synchronized wheelies.

Evel sailed over the buses fairly routinely, though his airborne cycle's front end dipped slightly downward. Afterwards he addressed the audience, almost apologetically: “You saw the motorcycle nosedive. I really didn’t do it right... Even me, after jumping for 12 years, I even make mistakes, still now.”

We did finally get to see the jump on TV a week or two later. While most of Evel’s appearances on Wide World provided either the “thrill of victory” or the “agony of defeat,” this performance did neither. Not only did Evel's Seattle jump wind up as the last of his 17 WWOS appearances, but it was also his final performance on the network.

And the reviews were harsh. An unnamed P-I sportswriter wrote that Evel was "dressed like some sort of patriotic Batman," and further commented on the show: "There are more thrills to be had watching a moth circle a lamp on a Saturday night... Knievel did his best to save a show that for most of the night droned off into tedium... Had all the suspense of opening a fortune cookie.”

But I didn't care. I got to see Evel, and that was plenty. I still have the program.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Knievel Style

Anyone stumped for a Halloween costume at this relatively late date would do well to check out the latest feature on my site, Knievel Style: The Evel Knievel Fashionography!

Knievel Style joins Knievel Rock: The Evel Knievel Discography and Knievel Comedy: The Evel Knievel Humorography as another obsessive survey of Evel's influence -- both positive and negative -- on pop culture.

Jack Black, seen here in an Annie Liebovitz photograph from the March 2004 Vanity Fair, is in all three! He accomplished the trifecta (or the Triple Crown?) on April 2, 2006, when he hosted Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards. The Tenacious D member opened the show wearing an Evel suit (Style!) singing the Elton John via Weird Al song "Saturday Night's Alright for Sliming" (Rock!) while slinging green slime on the audience (Comedy!).

Actually, I think it was a hat trick.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Say Goodbye to My Little Friend

Matt Hasselbeck, we hardly knew ye.

Yesterday your namesake suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee; today you sadly had to be sidelined for all eternity. Thank you for the six days of joy you brought to the lives of myself, Eliza, and Captain Bananas.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Say Hello to My Little Friends

I'd like you all to meet the latest additions to my family, Matt Hasselbeck and Captain Bananas. Please don't exclude them because they're different.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rolling Cobras, Detroit Stones

I saw the Rolling Stones last night.

I can tolerate a lot when it comes to seeing my favorite band, but this one really tested my patience. The shitty sound, gestapo-like security, chancy mid-October weather (luckily it was dry and not too cold), expensive tickets ($158.20 for a floor seat 80 yards from the stage), $7 beers (which may only be consumed in dreary, fenced-in beer gardens), and the stadium-sized, Vegas-esque, visual spectacle -- giant video screens, a crazy-ass light show, smoke machines, firey explosions, streamers, a 50-foot tall inflatable tongue-and-lips logo, and a fireworks display that looked like Kim Jong Il had unleashed WWIII -- all that competing with the actual music. Even then, during their 19-song set, they did five of the same tired songs that I hear 'em play every goddamn time -- "Start Me Up," "Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Women," "Tumbling Dice," "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Satisfaction." Not to mention douchebag Dave Matthews's guest vocals lousing up "Let It Bleed."

None of this came as much surprise, though I'm clearly experiencing diminishing returns with each Stones concert I attend. Last night they played only six new songs I hadn't heard live before, but I was delighted that three of 'em were the mid-'60s gems "Paint It Black," "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Under My Thumb." I also hadn't previously heard either of Keith's two lead-vocal numbers (the so-so "You Got the Silver" and the bitchin' "Little T&A"). My favorite song of the night was "She Was Hot," an early-'80s favorite from my early teens, largely due to its sexy, silly video, itself a spoof of The Girl Can't Help It. Despite all my gripes, I found myself continually smiling throughout the show, so I suppose I enjoyed it.

I also saw the Detroit Cobras.

Unfortunately, by the time I walked from Qwest Field (née Seahawk Stadium) to Neumo's, the Cobras's set was nearly over. Apparently the show got an early start, ‘cause I only caught the last 20-some minutes before it ended at midnight. At least it cost me nothing to get in, the beer was only $3, and I got to hear two of my favorites ("Hey Sailor" and "Shout Bamalama"). The Stones promised A Bigger Bang, but dollar-for-dollar, the Cobras easily delivered the biggest bang.

The top photo was stolen from the P-I; I snapped the bottom two. I should leave the concert photography to the pros.

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Chuck Berry, Octogenarian

Happy 80th, Chuck!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's Only Rock 'n' Roll

Yet I enjoy that.

Tonight I'm going to my fifth Rolling Stones concert, this one at Qwest Field. Here's a rundown of the previous four. Photos stolen from various online sources.

December 15, 1994
The Kingdome, Seattle

My first-ever Stones show, during their Voodoo Lounge tour (the highest-grossing rock tour of all time (unless their current A Bigger Bang tour surpasses it)). Highlights: "Rocks Off," "Beast of Burden," "Far Away Eyes," "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)," "Monkey Man," "Not Fade Away," "Brown Sugar."

November 6, 2002
Tacoma Dome

I wrote this preview for this, the first of two shows I saw on their Forty Licks tour. The token new song played at both concerts was the anemic "Don't Stop." Sheryl Crow's guest vocals stunk up "Wild Horses." Highlights: "Street Fighting Man," "Before They Make Me Run," "All Down the Line," "Midnight Rambler," "When the Whip Comes Down," "Gimme Shelter," "Brown Sugar."

November 14, 2002
San Diego Sports Arena

In the eight-day interim following the Tacoma show, Mick & Keith guest-starred as themselves on The Simpsons. In San Diego, I snuck down to the floor for the last few songs of the set, where I saw Bill Walton cheering them on. Sheryl Crow's guest vocals stunk up "Honky Tonk Women." Highlights: "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," "Neighbours," "Love in Vain," "Happy," "Bitch," "Brown Sugar."

October 30, 2005
Key Arena, Seattle

I wrote this preview, recapping all the Stones's previous Seattle-area engagements leading up to this stop on the A Bigger Bang tour. The new songs sounded good live, particularly "Rough Justice" and "Oh No Not You Again." Highlights: "Shattered," "She’s So Cold," "Get Off of My Cloud," "Ruby Tuesday," "Night Time Is the Right Time," "Brown Sugar."

* * *

So after four concerts, I've heard them play 50 different songs, and at every concert they predictably played the crowd pleasers "Start Me Up," "Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Women," "Tumbling Dice," "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Satisfaction." Of the many songs I've never heard live, these are on my wish list for tonight: "Rip This Joint," "Respectable," "She Was Hot," "Sway," "Little T&A," "It Won't Take Long," "Hang Fire." I also wish for a dry, not-too-cold evening.

Afterwards, if I'm still up for it, I'm gonna see the Detroit Cobras. Wish list: "Hey Sailor," "He Did It," "Midnight Blue," "The Real Thing," "Shout Bamalama," "Brown Sugar."

I'll post a recap of this evening's show(s) in the next day or two.

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Monday, October 16, 2006


This is Barpy!, a snack product I picked up last year at a grocery store in Croatia. It's kinda like Kraft Cheese 'n Crackers, only substituting chocolate for the cheese. You peel back the foil wrapper to reveal a clear, two-compartment plastic tray, then dip these little bread sticks from one compartment into this Nutella-like creamy chocolate goo in the other (as the artwork suggests). It's not much of a snacking experience, but I find the ridiculous product name and Brady Bunch font and overall design irresistible... Barpy!


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dylan Spit Hot Fire

I saw Bob Dylan Friday night.

I'd always been intrigued by the legendary iconic godhead blah blah blah, though his music never knocked my socks off. Granted, I didn't know much more than his radio fodder (I've always hated both the cheesy "Lay Lady Lay" and the dumb novelty hit "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35," a song about as worthy of him as "My Ding-a-Ling" is to Chuck Berry). Regardless, I owned a token Greatest Hits CD, and later his Essential collection. Unlike his original folkie fanbase, I strongly preferred the electric, "commercial" Dylan to the acoustic protest singer with the shrill harmonica. Those hippy-dippy "Blowin' in the Wind"-type sentiments weren't for my tastes, but neither was his being all cryptic and weird.

But last year's awesome, three-plus-hour Martin Scorsese documentary
No Direction Home finally made a fan outta me. This was the first time I heard him speak clearly and directly, describing his life from his Minnesota boyhood to his confrontational mid-'60s concerts in an articulate, plainspoken style. The film was demystifying and illuminating -- I finally found Bob Dylan accessible. Oh, and the music was great.

So I delved deeper. I loaded up my iPod with a 123-song Bob Dylan playlist (including his latest album, Modern Times, which I like a lot), read his 2004 memoir Chronicles Volume One (I especially dug reading about his early days in New York), and watched the 1967 documentary Dont Look Back (in which he was an arrogant dick). Through all this I came to fully appreciate his perpetual outsider status, and that his lifelong defiance wasn't just a provocative pose, as I'd always suspected.

Of course, I was fully aware that his refusal to pander could make for a lousy concert, but I was pleasantly surprised. Going in, I knew a few other basics: he no longer played guitar in concert, having switched to the organ he stooped over throughout the show (I was glad to see the 65-year-old still actually stood at the organ; I'd assumed he'd be seated). Also, I knew he keeps his moldy oldies fresh by performing them in different styles and arrangements each time. That's fine by me, though I'd often still be guessing what number was actually playing until well into it, until I could pick out a familiar lyric. F'rinstance, I thought the show's opener was a cover of Neil Diamond's corny "America" ("They're coming to America -- today!"), until I identified it as "Maggie's Farm."

For having never seen Bob Dylan before, he seemed to enjoy himself throughout the 16-song, two-hour set. He shimmied around to the more upbeat tunes and pointed out cues to his solidly rocking band. At times the music was a lot louder and heavier than I anticipated, especially on "Highway 61 Revisited," my favorite song of the night. His newer tunes were the only ones he played like their studio counterparts, like the boogie-woogie "Thunder on the Mountain" and the bittersweet ballad "Workingman's Blues #2." The evening's penultimate number, "Like a Rolling Stone," didn't do much for me, if only because I've heard it so many times that it's lost all punch, though the finale, "All Along the Watchtower," was pretty killer.

As for the crowd, my two thirty-something-something friends and I were probably about the median age, which surprised me -- I thought there'd be way more boomer Folklife folks. Kris, a veteran of eight Dylan concerts, kept me updated on the show's finer points ("Whoa, he really switched the lyrics around on that one!"); Jennie bought a T-shirt.

Below is a photo I snapped from our seats, like 100 yards out from the Key Arena stage (thankfully, we had a pair of binoculars to share). Dylan is the third speck from the right. He spit hot fire.



Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sign o' the Times (1993)

I snapped this photo in Vancouver, Washington, shortly after the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. While it was good of DQ to ensure customer safety, I couldn't quite handle the juxtaposition of "Dairy Queen" and "E. COLI."


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ee-Chee-Ro! Ee-Chee-Ro!

Another year, another kickass season for Ichiro.

For today's game -- the M's finale in another last-place campaign -- Eliza and I made silkscreen shirts using the photo seen here. Unfortunately, the shirts didn't turn out as awesomely as Ichiro's '06 totals. Playing in all but one game, he hit .322, with 224 hits, 110 runs and 45 stolen bases (including some sort of consecutive-steals record), as well as making a smooth transition from right field to center. And he looked great doing it, wearing stylish high socks, a look he adopted in March while leading Japan to win the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

Ever since his 2001 Mariner debut, Ichiro has been my all-time favorite ballplayer. He brings excitement to every at-bat, his blazing speed flustering infielders with his many infield singles. I love how he racks up the hits -- I seem to cheer more for his batting stats than the Mariners' fortunes as a whole. And I dig his small-ball approach to the game, which, combined with his modest, enigmatic demeanor, makes him the antithesis of the fence-swinging, loud-mouthed, doped-up Barry Bonds.

Now, after a half-dozen MLB seasons, Ichiro has 1,354 career hits, averaging 226 per annum. With six consecutive 200-hit seasons, only Wade Boggs and Wee Willie Keeler own more (with seven and eight, respectively). We attended the October 2004 game when he tied, then broke George Sisler's 80-year-old single-season hits record of 257. Two days later, we went to his final '04 game when he set the new standard with hit number 262. Man, I'd love to see him become the first player in 60 years to hit .400, or challenge Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak...

I also wanna see him fight Darth Maul.


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