Monday, June 28, 2010

Bigfoot Enshrined at the Science Fiction Museum

For several years I've had a free pass to the Science Fiction Museum sitting in my desk, and today I finally I used it. I'm not much of a sci-fi spaz to begin with, but I did get a kick outta Kenner's Bionic Bigfoot action figure. The Six Million Dollar Sasquatch first appeared on The Six Million Dollar Man in 1976 (played by Andre the Giant!), and later on The Bionic Woman. Above, Bigfoot attacks BW, while a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lurks behind them.

This particular Bigfoot appears on my Bigfoot on Film page but not on my Bigfoot Menagerie page -- I don't own one 'cause it's too expensive.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eat Me in St. Louis

Last night, instead of blogging about yesterday's portion of my trip, I was compelled to do this Quatchi Watch post. So, this post will have to act as a sort of doubleheader...

Yesterday I high-tailed it from KC via Booches in Columbia to St. Louis, just in time for Mariner batting practice. Recently inspired by ball-snagging king Zack Hample, my goal was either to grab an Ichiro home-run ball, or just have him toss me one. I figured wearing my gray M's jersey and navy M's cap in a sea of Cardinal red would help me stand out. No such luck. However, as I stood in the right-field seats, some unnumbered Mariner who I didn't recognize tossed a ball in my direction, and I outscrambled this other guy for it. Then Sean White threw a couple balls directly to me. I gave one of 'em to this kid standing nearby, since I already had a ball and he didn't (and he was clearly dying to get one). These are the only MLB balls I've ever obtained, other than a foul ball that landed in my dad's seat at the Kingdome one time. Anyway, here are the two balls I came home with:

Oh, and the M's won, avoiding a sweep. During the series, I was hoping to see a Fister-Pujols showdown, just so I could crack a joke about it. But that didn't happen. Still, Busch Stadium is pretty great. They have any kind of beer you like, as long as it's Budweiser. As for the rest of St. Louis...

After the game, I wandered around the Gateway Arch on the way back to my hotel (room 1804, which not only is our street address, but also the year the Lewis and Clark headed out on their big expedition just blocks from here). Man, the Arch is killer -- easily the highlight of my trip. All the pictures I've previously seen have hardly done it justice, 'cause I had no idea it would be so stunning in person. So simple, so modern, so bold. Like, I love the Space Needle -- it's a sort of retro kitchy-cool emblem of Seattle -- but doesn't actually inspire me the way the Arch does. I went back today and snapped this photo from the ground:

And another:

And here's a view from the top:

Hats off to Eero Saarinen. To a far lesser extent, I also liked the Museum of Westward Expansion, built under the lawn right below the arch. It's been too long since I've seen a museum with kooky animatronic figures.

After lunch at Crown Candy Kitchen, I drove to the sites of the former Robinson Field and Sportsman's Park:

I also walked by the Fox Theater (where the awesome Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll was shot) and through the nearby St. Louis University campus, but I forgot to look for the Billiken.

I started running out of stuff to do, so I decided to take the Budweiser tour. I'd never toured a brewery before, but it was pretty much like I expected (interesting, but not fascinating). Then I went to nearby Gus' Pretzels, but it was closed for the day, so I moved on to Ted Drewes for a "concrete" blueberry custard.

Drove around various neighborhoods, like The Hill, East St. Louis (roll 'em up!), and the Delmar Loop, where I dined at the surprisingly cool Blueberry Hill. I ate the toasted ravioli -- a signature St. Louis dish -- and decided that I prefer my ravioli untoasted. Another local favorite is gooey butter cake, but I didn't actually see it anywhere.

Stuff I missed: the Batman roller coaster (too far out of town, too expensive, too scary), the Evel Knievel roller coaster (same issues), and the Bowling Hall of Fame (it moved to Texas).

Fun trip. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kansas City, Here I Am

I've never eaten frog legs before, but the impulse hit me this morning at the Goody Goody Diner in St. Louis. The frog portion of the Legs 'n Eggs Platter, like so many other foods, tasted like the proverbial chicken. Nibbling little bits of frog meat from tiny bones was kinda weird, but I dealt. I'm in no hurry to order it again.

Out in the 'burbs I visited the "Home of BIGFOOT." I'm not much into monster trucks, and though the iconic vehicle has nothing to do with the iconic Sasquatch, I figured it was worth a visit. I snapped some photos and bought a Bigfoot Koozy.

Then spent four rainy hours driving across Missouri on I-70, with its many billboards featuring pro-life blather and Sammy Hagar. I deliberately overshot Kansas City, MO to spin through Kansas City, KS, making Kansas the 39th state I've visited in my life. Back in Missouri, I lunched at Arthur Bryant's BBQ, then visited the site of the former Municipal Stadium, and then toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Mixed feelings -- it was a solid, touching tribute to this chapter of American history, but unfortunate that segregation caused this chapter to exist in the first place.

Tonight I hit the Royals/Astros game at Kauffman Stadium (the 24th current stadium I've attended a game at; the 30th stadium overall). I like that it isn't named for the highest corporate bidder, but instead after influential, versatile comedian Andy Kaufman. I also like the Royals Hall of Fame, the open concourses, the monster scoreboard, first-base coach Rusty Kuntz, and that the official team color is royal blue -- my favorite color ever of all-time ever.

That said, the Royals have always struck me as the blandest franchise in baseball, and tonight pretty much confirmed it. Kansas City itself seems pretty dull, and combined with its monster suburban sports complex (with pedestrian-unfriendly acres of parking), a fucked-up mascot, and other bits of lameness too petty to bitch about, I was hardly impressed. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy a game at any ballpark, good or bad. Even if the experience isn't the best, I'm always glad I went.

One last thing: Kauffman's fountains did never much for me on TV, but after seeing them in person, I really dig this unique feature. Though it could use some ducks.

Tonight I'm across I-70 from Kauffman at the Dreary Drury Inn & Suites. Back to St. Louis tomorrow.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Hangin' Down in Memphis All the While

Graceland was a nightmare as far as major tourist attractions go -- shuttle vans, clumsy headphone devices, no flash photography, getting herded around like cattle, hearing guides reciting the same crap over and over... Still, the actual mansion was as wonderfully gaudy as expected (the Jungle Room!), though the killer memorabilia was what really made it worthwhile -- the jumpsuits, the gold records, the concert posters, the news clippings, the fan art, the movie costumes and props, etc., etc., etc... Elvis's private racquetball court was converted into this:

I didn't have time to check out the car museum, the Lisa Marie (the plane, not the daughter), and the myriad gift shops, 'cause I had to race back to the Peabody for the 11 a.m. duck march. Unfortunately, the ducks didn't "march" so much as bolt, running from the elevator to the fountain so quickly that I barely saw 'em. I didn't get a decent picture, but believe me, they were plenty cute.

Kitty-corner from the Peabody is AutoZone Park, home of the AAA Redbirds. I love a downtown ballpark, and the retro-brick style and intimate, minor-league scale make it a thing of beauty. Too bad I didn't plan my trip to take in a game there. One nice touch, among many -- the various Redbird whirligigs around the venue:

The rest of my brief time in town was a series of surgical photo-op strikes, such as the Lorraine Motel:

The Arcade Restaurant (in the same vicinity of the train station and site of the demolished Arcade Hotel, all seen in Mystery Train):

Sun Studio:

The Levitt Shell:

And Ardent Studios, where Jim Dickinson produced three of my all-time favorite records (Big Star's Third, Pleased to Meet Me by the Replacements, and Mudhoney's Tomorrow Hit Today):

Less meaningful to me -- but of much greater historical significance -- is Stax:

I forgot to visit A. Shwab's when it was open today, but last night when it was closed I snapped this:

After a fairly decent lunch at Tops Bar-B-Q, I sped up to St. Louis via Arkansas -- the 38th state I've visited in my life -- driving through such towns as Cooter and Festus. Sadly, I didn't arrive in time for Ichiro's leadoff homer at tonight's Cards/M's game. In any case, Bush stadium is now the 24th current MLB stadium I've attended a game at, the 29th overall. Another personal stat: this is the third time I've seen the Mariners on the road, the other times being in Oakland in 1997 and Texas in 2007.

I'll say more about St. Louis later. Tomorrow I'm going to Kansas City. Kansas City, here I come.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Last Plane to Memphis

I'm down South for a few days, starting in Memphis. After touching down at the airport (the concourses smell of BBQ; there's an Elvis superstore), I popped across the border to Mississippi -- the 37th state I've visited in my life -- for dinner at the highly-touted Interstate Barbecue. Sadly, I found that location to be out of business... So far, no good.

After crossing back into Tennessee, I stopped by Graceland. It was closed for the evening, but there were still plenty of tourists (like me) snapping photos of the graffiti-covered outer walls. Then I drove around for a spell (I like the looks of the Redbirds's AutoZone Park) before checking in at the Peabody. It's plenty nice 'n' all, but mostly I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's duck march. The guy in charge holds the esteemed title of Duckmaster™.

My pal Jay grew up in Memphis, and he's given me plenty of advance pointers. I walked down nearby Beale Street, which he correctly called "a bunch of bullshit for tourists." However, Jay urged me to stop by Dyer's for their legendarily greasy deep-fried burgers. Damn, that shit was good.

There used to be a Big Foot Lodge in downtown Memphis, but after a 2008 lawsuit by California's Bigfoot Lodge, the woodsy, log cabin-styled restaurant is now called the Kooky Canuck. I stopped in to check for any Bigfoot remnants, to no avail. The hostess told me their old Bigfoot chainsaw sculpture is now kept at the owner's house.

Tomorrow I'll take the Graceland tour, and then cram in as much food and sightseeing as I can before motoring up to St. Looey for the Mariners/Cardinals tilt.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cool Logos, Boring Game (Still)

The Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers recently revealed new logos for their respective teams, both to join the Seattle Sounders next year in the MLS. Though I'm still ho-hum about the sport, perhaps I'll change my tune in September after we've been to our first game. (Many of our neighbors are already big fans, as evidenced by all the yelling and cheering coming from various homes around our apartment during today's World Cup games.) Regardless, I dig the designs, and It'll be cool to have a three-way Northwest rivalry.

From last year, here are my original Sounders impressions... Also, The Onion Sports Introduction To World Cup Soccer.

This just in -- soccer is gay!


Stop Freakin' -- Call Bigfoot!

Bigfoot Plumbing, that is.

Spotted this morning on Broadway.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy 33rd, Seattle Slew!

It was 33 years ago today that Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown. He's the second-most recent horse to accomplish the feat (Affirmed won it in '78), and he's the only undefeated horse ever to win it. Read more at HistoryLink.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Where Kenny Powers Tweets, I Shall Follow

I finally opened a Twitter account, just so I can stay up-to-date on Kenny Powers.

Oh, and Eliza too!


The tweets are actually from a Kenny Powers impersonator. Still funny though.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weekend Wrap

Saturday I attended Turn-Back-the-Clock day at Safeco Field, with the M's clad in their turquoise jerseys from 1995. Ichiro looked sharp, giving a curtain call after scoring his 1,000th career run. Otherwise, the less said about the embarrassing 11-2 drubbing by the Angels, the better.

Today, after breakfast today at Johnny's at Fife, we hit Tacoma's Washington State History Museum for Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch.

It was pretty cool, but it was also pretty much the same exhibit, with the same name and promotional materials, as the one we saw in 2008 at the State Capital Museum in Olympia. This time, however, I bought a souvenir Bigfoot snow globe.

While in T-Town we hit a bunch of thrift stores, drove through Point Defiance Park and had lunch at the fabulous Frisko Freeze:

We also stopped for a quick photo op at the Goofy Goose:

On our way home, heading north on the First Avenue South Bridge, we spotted this:

Despite Bigfoot's endorsement, we instead dined at Smith.


Also on Saturday, 48-year-old Robbie Knievel jumped a bunch of stuff in Texas, his first performance in nine months.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

So Long, Junior


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Ichiro Rock 'n' Roll

Xola, "Ichiro!" (2001).
In the early '90s, when Xola was known as Kid Sensation, he recorded the hiphop tune "The Way I Swing" with guest rapper Ken Griffey Jr. Though Ichiro doesn't rock the mic on "Ichiro!", Xola did get him to license his name to this song, which was played at Safeco Field and sold locally as a CD single during Ichiro's rookie season. The disc was then released in Japan in 2002, featuring four tracks: the original version, a new 2002 version, the "Club Groove Remix" and "Mad Flava Remix" (at least one of the remixes was by Sir Mix-a-Lot). The track again appeared on the 2009 Kid Sensation CD Back Home. According to this, "Ichiro reportedly thinks the song is 'cool.'"

The Ventures, "Let's Go! Ichiro" (2001).
After opening with a promising surf-rock riff, this song is mostly just a mix of guitars, horns, and the song title sung ad nauseum over a dumb dance beat. Kinda sad, Tacoma's legendary surf-guitar gods putting out this half-assed effort. (They were still inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame seven years later, ostensibly for such unassailable classics as "Walk, Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O.") This tune comes from the EP Songs for the Baseball Players, which was apparently only released in Japan. Makes sense, since both the Ichiro and the Ventures are huge there.

Terry Cashman, "Ichiro" (2002).
Cashman has milked his dopey 1981 novelty hit "Talkin' Baseball" far beyond its worth, with customized versions for nearly every Major League team (as well as for The Simpsons, which is actually kinda cool). His Ichiro tribute is a generic, mid-tempo rocker, though he rolls the R when he sings "Ichiro," presumably for authenticity. From the EP Talkin' Baseball: Seattle Mariners.

Supersnazz, "Go Go Ichiro" (2004).
Now we're getting somewhere: a two-minute garage-rock blast by the all-girl Japanese band, shouting the title over and over like crazed fans who are genuinely stoked about their subject -- any additional lyrics would just get in the way. This comes from the compilation Seattle ...A Baseball Town, in which Ichiro gets additional shout-outs in "Baseball Hero" (also by Supersnazz) and "2001" by Presidents of the United States of America frontguy Chris Ballew. Here's a video.

Goblin Cock, “Ichiro’s Dilemma” (2005).
A dumb metal song about some character from the Godzilla movies, so don't bother.

Charles Mazarakes, “Ichiro” (2006).
A brief, minor-key instrumental, with flute mingling with the plucking of some Japanese-sounding stringed instrument. There are no other clues as whether this is about our Ichiro or some other Ichiro -- check out the Songs from a Stone CD and decide for yourself.

Phil Coley, "Ichiro" (2007).
Imagine Waylon Jennings singing over a Wesley Willis composition, though with a bit more lyrical ambition than the above numbers. Coley ticks off Ichiro's various career achievements as a sort of folky ballad while tossing in a few oddball lines ("He has the drive, precision and smoothness of a Toyota"). From the CD Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 2.

The Seattle Sports Band, "Ichiro Suzuki" (2009).
This is even more amateurish than the album cover seen above. Still, Mariners & Seahawks might be worth a spin for its other tunes, including "Matt Hasselbeck," "Don Wakamatsu," and "T.J. Houshmandzadeh."

Projekt A-ko, "Ichiro on Third" (2009).
From the album Yoyodyne, these Scottish lads tackle Ichiro with a sort of Pavement-y sound. The lyrics are neither here nor there.

Carlos De Couto, "Go Ichiro!" (2010).
Mix a '90s Helmet riff with cheering crowd noises, a fake stadium announcer and the song title sung repeatedly, and, well, you get this.

The Baseball Project, "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" (2010).
Okay, these guys are cool, and so is this song. It has yet to be released, but it's definitely the best Ichiro tune I've heard -- they played it live at their show I attended last Friday, as seen on my stolen set list (above). "Don't put him on a pedestal/ Just treat him with respect/ (something something something)/ He earns all that he gets." The verses praise Ichiro's stellar achievements, and the chorus goes, "I won't be surprised at all when Ichiro goes, Ichiro goes to the moon." After playing the song, band co-leader Scott McCaughey mentioned that Ben Gibbard from the Death Cabs for the Cuties is also working on his own Ichiro song, so be on the lookout for that one. Read more about the mighty Baseball Project here.

Dave Ross, “Ichiro: The Opera” (year unknown).
Novelty song sung to the tune of Figaro by a wacky Seattle DJ -- listen here.

Ichiro's Entrance Music
Over his ten seasons at Safeco Field, these are among the tunes that have played as he's stepped up to bat...
"In Da Club" by 50 Cent
"In the Ayer" by Flo Rida
"Jump" by Flo Rida
"Sugar" by Flo Rida
“Identity” by Ringo Shiina
“Yokushitsu” by Ringo Shiina
"Take it to da House" by Trick Daddy
"Yeah!" by Usher

If you know of any other bits of Ichiro Rock 'n' Roll, send 'em in!

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Tale of Two Reissues: The Stones & the Stooges

I've never bought that line about how punk was a reaction to the supposedly lame music of the early '70s. At the time I was barely out of my diapers and hardly hip to the sounds of the day, but the era is generally regarded as the peak of lotsa killer acts: Zeppelin, Bowie, T-Rex, and especially the Stones and the Stooges. The past month has seen reissues of two of the best, most influential records of the era, the Stones' Exile on Main St. (1972) and the Stooges' Raw Power (1973). Both of 'em are among my faves, and of course, both of 'em I bought. Let's start with the Stones.

Though Exile is widely considered only the Stones' greatest album, and usually ranks in the top ten of most "best album ever" surveys, my personal fave is 1978's Some Girls, followed by 1971's Sticky Fingers. In any case, "Rocks Off," "Rip This Joint" and "All Down the Line" are totally killer, while "Tumbling Dice" and "Happy" are secondary faves. The rest is great too, though I gotta admit the set as a whole has never blown me away. Maybe it will, after a few more spins of this reissue.

Thinking back, this is the fourth time I've bought Exile -- a cassette and then a CD in the '80s, another CD in the '00s, and now this new Deluxe Edition, retailing for $22.99 on Amazon. Had I shelled out $136.89 for the King Shit Super Deluxe Edition, I'd also get two vinyl LPs (it was originally issued as a double album, which now can be bought separately from this package), a 30-minute making-of documentary (also to be sold separately), a 50-page hardcover book, and reprints of the postcards included in the original album. But the biggest selling point for both editions are the ten previously unreleased bonus songs. Supposedly Mick Jagger recently recorded his vocals over the "missing" 37 year-old instrumental tracks, most of which are pretty good, while "Plundered My Soul" is great. But what would've really knocked my socks off would be some live numbers from their legendary 1972 tour. At least the Stones are finally digging into their presumably deep archives to release unheard nuggets from the past.

On the other hand, it seems that every Stooges demo/outtake/live track they've ever puked up has appeared on one fairly accessible, quasi-official release or other, so this reissue, padded with lotsa similar bonus stuff, largely amounts to more Stooges slag to throw on the heap. Which ain't a bad thing.

I fucking love Raw Power, much more than Exile and, for that matter, damn near anything else. I passed over the $12.99 Legacy Edition for the $59.99 King Shit Deluxe Edition, which, besides David Bowie's original mix of the album and a disc of outtakes, includes another iffy live recording, a softcover book, some new postcards (like the Shepard Fairey one above), a 7" single, and a making-of DVD. It's funny how most fans griped about Bowie's shitty 1973 mix, but when Iggy remixed the album himself for a 1997 reissue, many fans complained that the original shouldn't have been tampered with. While I'm generally a purist about such stuff, I strongly prefer Iggy's '97 remix.

I'm stoked that the reunited Stooges will be touring with Raw Power guitar man James Williamson in tow. Too bad the band flamed out in '74 before they were able to record a follow-up, since those post-Raw Power demo/outtake/live tracks were absolute monsters: "Cock in My Pocket," "Wet My Bed," "Rubber Legs," "Heavy Liquid," "Open Up and Bleed," "I Got a Right," "Head On"...

As with Exile, this is also the fourth time I've bought Raw Power -- sheesh. An LP in the '80s, a CD in the early '90s, Iggy's remixed reissue in 1997, and now this...

Raw Power, honey, just won't quit. Neither does Exile on Main St.

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